Pimlico Race Course, the Preakness Stakes, and Maryland Equestrian Culture

Updated on August 23, 2019
harrynielsen profile image

American sporting events run the gamut in their scope and often cater to large crowds.

The Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the prestigious Triple Crown races.
The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the prestigious Triple Crown races. | Source

How Did Pimlico Race Course Get Its Name?

Pimlico Race Course, as it is officially called, received its name from the northwest section of Baltimore, where it was built. This area was originally settled by immigrants from London, who named the area for a fashionable section of London Town, located within the smaller city of New Westminster. More precisely, there was a prominent man in this section of London named Ben Pimlico and he ran a popular drinking establishment called Olde Ben Pimlico's Tavern. Olde Ben must've been quite a colorful character, for he is survived by a section of London and a well-known American racetrack that now bear his name.

At Pimlico

The winner of the 2017 Preakness Stakes bearing a coat of Black-eyed Susans, the Maryland state flower.
The winner of the 2017 Preakness Stakes bearing a coat of Black-eyed Susans, the Maryland state flower. | Source

The History of the Pimlico Track

The Pimlico Race Course is the second oldest horse racing track in the country, exceeded only by Saratoga in upstate New York. The Pimlico track opened in 1870, at first hosting only a few races a year, but quickly grew as Baltimoreans took a liking to the well-planned racing venue. Instrumental in the creation of Pimlico was the Maryland Jockey Club, which raised the money to buy the land and put up the facilities for the clubhouse, stands, and track.

Originally formed in 1743 in Annapolis to encourage horse racing in the Maryland Colony, the Jockey Club gave way to the Pimlico group, once the track was opened. Since then, Pimlico has been the sole operator of the race track, while the Jockey Club continues in its effort to support horse racing. By the way, not all members of this club have come from Maryland, as both George Washington and Andrew Jackson were members of the Maryland Jockey Club.

The 1910 Betting Ban

In 1910, several years before Prohibition was enacted, the United States went through an anti-betting frenzy, where all but three states disallowed any form of legal betting or gambling - and in those three states, Maryland, Kentucky, and New York, only betting on horse racing was allowed.

Thus, not only did the Triple Crown hosts survive the anti-gambling movement, but also they created the reservoir from which gambling interests grew after the Prohibition, and the anti-gambling wave had run its course. At Pimlico, placing money on horses survived primarily because para-mutual was introduced as a way to circumvent the new laws.

Maryland Steeplechase Races

A steeplechase is a cross country horse race, where participants must jump numerous wooden rail hurdles, called timbers
A steeplechase is a cross country horse race, where participants must jump numerous wooden rail hurdles, called timbers

Cross Country Races for Horses

Maryland steeplechase racing is important to the Pimlico Race Course because in the early years of the 20th century, when track racing was under attack, a few members of the steeplechase community joined the Maryland Jockey Club and lent their much-needed support to the besieged racing industry.

Steeplechasing continues today in Maryland and though it doesn't draw the large crowds that the Preakness does, many fans still make the outdoor journey to enjoy a Spring afternoon in the countryside. Currently, steeplechase horse races take place from March through November in a handful of Atlantic states, stretching from Georgia to Upstate New York.

For those not familiar with a steeplechase, the race consists of a cross-country route that traverses grassy pastures interrupted by a half-dozen or so jumps. In the three Maryland races, My Lady's Manor, The Maryland Grand National, and the Hunt Cup, the jumping obstacles are actual timber fences. Despite their brevity, these outdoor events attract many spectators, who are more than happy to tote a blanket and picnic lunch to the racing site.

Steeplechase Racing in Maryland

The Preakness Stakes

Today, the Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown. The name for the race can be traced back to 1870, when the first race, called the Dinner Party Stakes, was run at the newly-constructed Pimlico Race Course, This race was limited to colts and was won by a young horse from New Jersey, named Preakness.

The first Preakness Stakes was not actually run until 1873, at which time the race was limited to three-year-olds, a tradition which has continued to this day.

Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Harry Nielsen

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, howtheyplay.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://howtheyplay.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)