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Preakness Stakes in the United States

The Preakness Stakes is an annual horse race of Thoroughbred horses held at the Pimlico Race Course, in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the second event in the Triple Crown, a series of three horse races.

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The Triple Crown begins two weeks before the Preakness Stakes with the Kentucky Derby, and ends three weeks after, with the Belmont Stakes.

Is Preakness Stakes Day a Public Holiday?

The Preakness Stakes is always held on the third Saturday of May. Since Saturday is a non-working day in the United States, most government offices and schools are closed, but businesses tend to stay open. Public transport may be limited and people are advised to check with the local transit offices for public transport timings.

Holidays in the United States

How Is Preakness Stakes Celebrated?

Known as the Second Jewel in the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes was held for the first time in 1873. It is an integral part of Maryland culture and is celebrated as an important horse race by fans of the sport. Like most horse racing events, the Stakes sees well-dressed and fashionable attendees, with women donning elaborate hats and headpieces.

Run for the Black-Eyed Susans

The Preakness Stakes is also sometimes known as the Run for the black-eyed Susans, after Rudbeckia hirta, the state flower of Maryland. The winner, however, does not receive a blanket of black-eyed Susans because they do not bloom until June. Instead, they are presented with a blanket of Viking poms or daisies that have been painted to look like black-eyed Susans.

Maryland's Official Song

The race is preceded by a rendition of the third verse of Maryland, My Maryland, Maryland's state song. Usually performed by the United States Naval Academy Glee Club, the song has its roots in the American Civil War and was extensively used during the war to rally soldiers to fight against the Union. Because of its controversial past, there have been several legislative attempts to remove it as the official song of the state.

The Painted Weather Vane

After the winner has been declared, a painter climbs up the building's cupola and paints the iron weather vane on top in the winner's colors. The vane is in the shape of a jockey and horse and was commissioned in 1909 by the Maryland Jockey Club.

Woodlawn Vase

The winner of the Stakes is awarded the prestigious Woodland Vase, a silver trophy designed and created by New York City jewelers, Tiffany & Co. The trophy was first awarded to the Preakness Stakes winner in 1860, and until 1953, the winner got to hold on to it for the year. Since then, the three-foot-tall trophy, which has been valued at one million dollars and is considered to be the sport's most valuable trophy, has only been symbolically awarded. Winners now receive a replica, while the original is kept at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

What Is the Preakness Stakes?

The Preakness Stakes is a competitive race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, and it is part of the Triple Crown. Run on a 1,900 meters (1.181 miles) dirt track, it is the shortest race by distance in the Triple Crown. To win the Triple Crown, a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. So far, only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown.

Geldings and colts are required to carry 57 kg (126lb) and fillies 55 kg (121lb) while running the race. A gelding is a castrated male horse, while a colt is a young male horse. Fillies are female horses.

History of the Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is named after Preakness, the colt who won the first race, the Dinner Party Stakes, held at Pimlico on October 25, 1870. Seven Thoroughbreds ran the first ever Preakness Stakes on May 27, 1873, which was won by a horse named Survivor.

The Preakness Stakes hasn't always taken place two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. Until 1932, Preakness was often held before or on the day of the Kentucky Derby.

Preakness Stakes Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015SatMay 16Preakness StakesSporting event
2016SatMay 21Preakness StakesSporting event
2017SatMay 20Preakness StakesSporting event
2018SatMay 19Preakness StakesSporting event
2019SatMay 18Preakness StakesSporting event
2020SatMay 16Preakness StakesSporting event
2021SatMay 15Preakness StakesSporting event
2022SatMay 21Preakness StakesSporting event
2023SatMay 20Preakness StakesSporting event
2024SatMay 18Preakness StakesSporting event
2025SatMay 17Preakness StakesSporting event

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