Originally scheduled for May 16 and delayed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness for 3-year-olds is being presented this year as the final jewel in a refashioned Triple Crown, and also becomes the first Triple Crown race to serve as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
This year also marks the latest that the Preakness, which debuted in 1873, has ever been run. The previous benchmark was June 16, 1945, following the end of World War II, when Polynesian upset Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Hoop Jr. in the 70th renewal. The meet will be held without fans.
The Preakness Stakes was run for the first time in 1873, and while it may traditionally be the Second Jewel of the Triple Crown now, its first running was two years prior to the inaugural Kentucky Derby. The race earned its title from former Maryland Governor Oden Bowie after a colt named Preakness won the Dinner Party Stakes, the race held on Pimlico’s opening day in 1870. The record margin of victory set by John Chamberlain’s three-year-old Survivor during that first race, winning by 10 lengths, wasn’t bested until 2004 when Smarty Jones won by 11 ½ lengths.
The Preakness almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner, along with other Derby horses and often a few that didn’t start in the Derby as well. It’s also the shortest of the three Triple Crown races at 1 3/16 miles, compared to the Kentucky Derby (1 1/4 miles) and the longest, the Belmont Stakes (1 1/2 miles). While these three races have always made up the Triple Crown, it wasn’t until 1932 the order of the races was officially set. Prior to then, the Preakness was run before the Kentucky Derby 11 times and twice, in 1917 and 1922, on the same day.
The famous Secretariat holds the record for the fastest Preakness Stakes, set in 1973 with a clocked time of 1 minute and 53 seconds. Secretariat additionally holds the records for the fastest editions of the other two Triple Crown races.