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Pimlico Race Course first opened in 1870, organized and built quickly under the direction of Maryland Governor Oden Bowie, to honor the first great horse to race there, Preakness, Governor Bowie proposed a stakes race for three-year-olds at 1-1/2 miles. The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of American racing's Triple Crown, was thus inaugurated in 1873, two years before Col. M. Lewis Clark's vision would bring the Kentucky Derby into the world.
The Preakness stayed at Pimlico throughout the 1870s and `80s, but financial problems struck the track and the Maryland Jockey Club, and the race was moved to New York in 1890, when it was run at Morris Park. The Preakness continued to be run there off and on for nearly two decades, with Gravesend race track in Brooklyn hosting the race 15 times.
In 1909, with the Maryland Jockey Club emerging from its financial difficulties, the Preakness came back home and has never left. That year's renewal was contested at one mile. The race was stretched out to 1-1/8 miles in 1911. The race was established at its current length of 1-3/16 miles in 1925. For most of the 1920s and early `30s, the race was contested in early May, before the Kentucky Derby. In 1930, Gallant Fox's Triple Crown-winning effort required him winning the Preakness on May 9 and the Kentucky Derby eight days later. In the mid-1930s, the race was moved to mid-May, putting it one week after the Kentucky Derby. The current spacing of two weeks between races was established by the late 1940s.
The Pimlico Race Track is home of the Preakness Stakes. It first opened its doors on October 25, 1870. Did you know that Pimlico Race Track is the second oldest racetrack in the nation? It is only second to the famous Saratoga Race Track. Saratoga opened just six years earlier, in 1864. The Pimlico Race Track has been serving up high quality horse racing action to Baltimoreans for well over a century now. The track has been home to countless races that featured legendary horses such Sir Barton, Cigar, Man o' War, Secretariat, Citation and Seabiscuit.
The Pimlico Race Track was a modest track that is constructed on 70 acres of land. Back in those days, the land was only $23,500. In fact, the entire racetrack was constructed for $25,000. Back in those days, this was a pretty hefty sum, still small compared to today's real estate prices. Soon after, the Pimlico Race Track became a staple in the world of horse racing. As it grew, the Pimlico Race Track developed its own nickname "Old Hilltop". The name came from a small rise in the infield, which was a favorite gathering point for trainers and horse racing fans alike. Today, the Pimlico Race Track operates on 140 acres of land, entirely in Baltimore and the Old Hilltop has been removed as it obstructed view of those in the stands.
Pimlico Racetrack has a Loam oval track, a Turf course and a Grass course. Below are the track facts:
Pimlico Racetrack Facts
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line : 1,152 feet
Width of track : 70 feet
Has a six-furlong and 1 ¼ mile chutes
7/8 of a mile inside main track
Has an aluminum inner rail
Date: Saturday May 20, 2017
* Location: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, MD
The Preakness Stakes is an American Grade I stakes race 1-3/16 mile (1.91 km) thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old horses, held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kg); fillies 121 lb (55 kg).