Pimlico Racecourse: The Home of the Preakness Stakes
Pimlico Racecourse is a thoroughbred racing track in Baltimore, Maryland. Pimlico racecourse is acknowledged as one of the most venerable and respected tracks in America due to its role as host of one of America’s Triple Crown races – the Preakness Stakes.
Pimlico racecourse is located in a 140-acre complex within the Baltimore City limits. Pimlico racecourse is typically open to live racing from March to June; July to August; and from September to October.
Having opened its gates on October 25, 1870, Pimlico racecourse is the second oldest racecourse in the nation. The oldest is Saratoga, which opened in 1864. Due to its highly-regarded stature in the industry, Pimlico racecourse has played host to several great legends in horse racing history. Among the legendary horses who have seen action in Pimlico racecourse are Seabiscuit, War Admiral, Man O' War, Sir Barton, Citation, Secretariat, Cigar and Silver Charm.
Aside from the Preakness Stakes, Pimlico racecourse also plays host to some of Maryland’s most important stakes events. Among them are:
- The Maryland Million
- The Rollicking Stakes
- The Challedon Stakes
- The Maryland Juvenile Championship
- The Politely Stakes
- The Frank J. Defrancis Memorial Dash
- The Selima Stakes
- The Charles H. Hadry Stakes
- The Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship
- The Anne Arundel Stakes
- The Laurel Futurity
- The Stefanita Stakes
- The Northern Dancer Stakes
- The H. Steward Mitchell Stakes
- The Toddler Stakes
- The Geisha Handicap
- The Jennings Handicap
- The Squan Song Stakes
History of Pimlico Racecourse
In 1868, an agreement among sportsmen to hold a special race to commemorate a memorable dinner party became the foundation for the construction of Pimlico racecourse and the holding of the Preakness Stakes.
Maryland Governor Oden Bowie, businessman Milton H. Sanford, and New York’s John Hunter proposed that a two-mile stakes race be held in the fall of 1870 for three-year old colts and fillies to commemorate the dinner. Bowie suggested that a purse of $15,000 be set, and pledged to build a new racecourse to host it.
Hence, the idea for Pimlico racecourse was born. Pimlico racecourse was constructed on 70 acres overlooking the Jones Falls. The land was purchased by the Maryland Jockey Club for $23,500, while the racecourse was built for $25,000. The name "Pimlico" was derived from the name given the area by English settlers in Colonial times.
In 1870, the first Dinner Party Stakes was run on Pimlico racecourse's opening day and was won by Sanford's Preakness, one of only two male entrants in the seven horse field. The Dinner Party Stakes would later be run at Pimlico racecourse as the Dixie Handicap and is the 8th oldest stakes race in America.
In 1873, Pimlico racecourse introduced its new stakes race for three-year olds, the Preakness. Governor Bowie had named the mile and one-half race in honor of the first winner of the Dinner Party Stakes. In front of an estimated 12,000 spectators, Survivor galloped to the largest Preakness margin of victory ever. The Preakness Stakes prospered for the next 17 years but was halted in 1889, due to changes in the racing industry. The Preakness returned to Pimlico racecourse in 1909 after being run at the Gravesend track in Brooklyn, New York.
Today, Pimlico racecourse continues to welcome horse racing enthusiasts from all over and is considered one of the most revered institutions in American horse racing.
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