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Pimlico Race Course - Home of the Preakness Stakes

It’s the home of the Preakness Stakes – you know, the second leg of the Triple Crown in Thoroughbred racing. It is one of the oldest racetracks in the entire country with one of the largest capacities. We are talking about none other than Pimlico Race Course.

Do you watch horse racing? Are you an avid fan of the sport and already know all that you need to know about the most popular tracks? Perfect, because this guide will serve as a great refresher for everything you need to know about the oval-shaped dirt track that hosts the Preakness Stakes.

Now, there are probably some of you who have never heard of Pimlico Race Course. Maybe you have very little or no experience with horse racing. Are you someone who just loves sports and craves information? If that is the case, you happened to land on the ideal page.

Our horse racing specialists organized this catalog telling you everything you could possibly want to know about Pimlico Race Course. We start with some facts about how it originated and end up telling you how to get there if you want to be a spectator. We include details about the racetrack, as well as discuss what other races are held there. Believe it or not, it isn’t just the Preakness Stakes that is run at Pimlico.

Finally, we talk about the part everyone likes – making money. What the betting options are like once you arrive inside the gates is covered, as we would not want to leave you sports bettors hanging. Go ahead and get situated with a cool beverage and enjoy this page dedicated to Pimlico Race Course!

Overview of Pimlico Race Course

Year Opened
Baltimore, Maryland
Stronach Group
Course Type
Notable Races
Preakness Stakes, Dixie Stakes, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes
Official Website
Overview of Pimlico Race Course

Pimlico Race Course – The Beginning

Don’t worry about trying to remember the beginning of Pimlico Race Course. You weren’t alive back in 1870 when it all got started. It was then, during Pimlico’s first year in existence, that the Dinner Party Stakes event was held. The name of the victorious horse was Preakness.

Knowing the backstory of how the Preakness Stakes got its name is just a small portion of understanding the rich history behind this nearly 150-year-old racetrack. In 1868, Maryland’s Governor Oden Bowie had an idea at a dinner party. That idea turned into purchasing a 70-acre plot of land for $23,500.

After spending about the same amount constructing a racetrack, Pimlico Race Course was officially unveiled. Soon thereafter, folks started calling the place “Old Hilltop.” This came from an impression/lift in the infield section of the course that became known for being the congregation spot before and after the races.

Pimlico Race Course has undergone renovations, and things have changed as time has gone on. What has been unaffected is where the illustrious Preakness Stakes will be held each and every year. Since 1873 (other than a three-year hiatus from 1891-1893), Pimlico has been home to the middle leg of the Triple Crown Race.

Like clockwork, two weeks to the day after the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes is held in Baltimore’s most well-known racetrack.

Pimlico Race Course has truly stood the test of time unlike any other racetrack, or stadium for that matter, that we can think of. Despite being in the middle of the 1904 Great Fire of Baltimore, not to mention suffering through the Great Depression and countless riots, Pimlico Race Course is not only still standing – it is thriving.

Baltimore locals should be happy to hear that Pimlico is on the move for a major “facelift.” The Maryland Stadium Authority decided in 2017 that the race course and its facilities needed a minimum of $250 million in upgrades in order to meet today’s standards. It will be interesting to see this next major phase of changes at a place so esteemed as Pimlico.

Specific Racetrack Details

The racetrack at Pimlico is like many other racetracks around the country in terms of size. We are talking about a one-mile oval-shaped track filled with dirt. The infield portion of the track measures 7/8 of a mile and is comprised of turf. So far, not a whole lot unique about this specific track.

A Diagram Depicting How the Tracks Are Laid out at Pimlico

Where we start seeing the magnificence of the property is when we account for the 120,000 people that can be squeezed in for a race. There are a lot of racetracks in the United States of America. However, only a small handful of them can support more than six figures worth of men, women, and children.

It isn’t the largest in terms of being able to support the most horses, but their stables can house up to 1,000 Thoroughbreds. While it normally is horses, jockeys, and trainers taking up space at the race course, Pimlico has been home to its fair share of other celebrations and concerts. The Virgin Festival was held on site from 2006-2008 and featured many of the most prominent musicians and artists in all of America.

In terms of the actual dirt track, there isn’t a whole lot that is going to jump out at you, other than the “Hilltop” area formed in the infield section. It is what takes place AT Pimlico that really defines its enormity.

The Preakness Stakes

As terrific as everything is about Pimlico Race Course, the fact of the matter is that it would be just another racetrack if it wasn’t for the Preakness Stakes. The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing consists of three major races held every May and June. This one is sandwiched between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and boy, is there a lot of buzz surrounding the event.

The actual race is 1 3/16 miles long, or in horse racing terms – 9.5 furlongs. The record for the fastest time ever recorded came in 1973 when the acclaimed Secretariat comfortably won by 2.5 lengths. His time of 1:53.00 may not ever be surpassed, as we typically see a time between 1:55-1:58 take the cake nowadays.

Legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro holds the records for the most Preakness Stakes’ titles with six. Robert Wyndham Walden was responsible for training seven winning horses towards the end of the 19th century, more than any other trainer in history.

A race that is dominated by colts (male horses), the Preakness Stakes has seen a female horse cross the finish line first on five separate occasions. The first four of these occurrences came between 1903-1924.

Then in 2009, Rachel Alexandra blitzed past Derby winner Mine That Bird and ended the streak of male-horses winning the Preakness.

Her jockey, Calvin Borel, was less than surprised. So was the betting public. Trainer Steve Asmussen’s filly was the morning line and post time favorite, and Rachel Alexandra didn’t let anyone down.

If you are fortunate to ever be part of this race in person, make sure you know the lyrics to “Maryland, My Maryland.”

This song is sung by the thousands in attendance as the horses are making their way to the post. If you see yellow flowers being draped around the neck of the winning horse moments after the race is completed, don’t be alarmed. This is all part of the tradition that makes up the Preakness Stakes.

You can read more about this race on the following page.

What Other Races Are Held at Pimlico?

The Preakness Stakes is undoubtedly the most popular and well known of all the races held at Pimlico Race Course. But make no mistake – it isn’t the only horse racing event that takes place in Baltimore’s oldest and biggest racetrack. Take a look at some of the other notable races that are run here.

Dixie Stakes

If you ever plan on attending the Preakness Stakes, you won’t have to travel far to enjoy the Dixie Stakes. In fact, the Dixie Stakes takes place on the same Saturday in May as the Preakness, only it takes place on the infield track consisting of turf. Think of it as an “undercard” of sorts to the main event.

What is cool about the Dixie Stakes is that it actually started at Pimlico in 1870, three years before the Preakness Stakes was born.

This race is designed for female horses who are a minimum of three years old. This may just be an “appetizer” for the main course that comes later in the afternoon, but the Dixie Stakes is a distinguished Grade-II race of its own with a quarter-million-dollar purse.

The 1 1/16-mile race has a record time of 1:40.57 set by Ironicus in 2015. Sarazen is the only horse to capture the event twice.

Black-Eyed Susan Stakes

There is one other Grade-II race that is held annually at Pimlico Race Course. The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is slightly shorter than the Dixie Stakes at 1 1/8 miles. This race, however, is run on the outside dirt track.

This race originated in 1919, but don’t look for its current name. From 1919-1952, this staked race was known as the Pimlico Oaks. The people in charge wanted the event’s name to honor the state flower and reflect the Preakness Stakes. Add that together, and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes was born.

While no filly (female horse) has ever won this race twice, two jockeys can claim four Black-Eyed Susan Stakes wins. Chris McCarron won for the fourth time in 1992 riding Miss Legality, while Puerto Rican jockey John Velazquez ended a seven-year hiatus from “winner’s circle” in 2012 when he rode In Lingerie to the title.

Chris Mccarron and John Velazquez Have Each Won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Four Times.

McCarron and Velazquez have both had great success in this race.

Just like they have the Triple Crown for Thoroughbred racing, they have what is called the Filly Triple Crown. First, we have the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, and lastly, we have Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park. The middle leg is the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.

Pimlico Special

Another one of the “undercard” events for the Preakness Stakes, the Pimlico Special is a Grade-III thoroughbred race that takes place the day before the Preakness. Similar to the Preakness, the horses run 1 3/16 miles on the dirt track. Believe it or not, the record for the fastest time at the Pimlico Special clocks in a split second faster than Secretariat’s record-setting performance in 1973.

Farma Way blazed past his competition in 1991 in 1:52.40, six-tenths of a second faster than Secretariat’s 1973 time. Eddie Arcaro might sound familiar, as he has his name plastered all over the horse racing record books. He won the Pimlico Special four times, the only jockey to do so.

Unlike some of the other races are run year in and year out, the Pimlico Special has witnessed its fair share of ups and downs. The race was not run from 1959-1987, and was again absent from the schedule in 2002, 2007, and 2009-2011. Fortunately, the race has been successful since 2012 and looks to be back as a mainstay.

Getting to Pimlico

Looking to make it the Preakness Stakes? You are in luck because thankfully, Pimlico Race Course is located in an area that is not hard to find. If you are in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C., you are in great shape, as it is only about 48 miles from the capital to the racetrack.

Coming from up the northeast? You are only looking at a 99-mile drive southwest on the I-95 S from Philadelphia. Obviously, the key is to get to the Baltimore airport. Once you get there, you are a mere 20 miles from the home of the Preakness Stakes.

If you really are planning on going to the Preakness, we suggest planning WELL ahead of time.

Large crowds are common at the Preakness, primarily due to the importance of the race. The 2015 edition, for example, saw more than 131,000 fans charge their way onto the property to witness American Pharoah win. Those fans certainly were part of history, as American Pharoah not only won the Preakness Stakes that year, but he went on to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978.

Betting at Pimlico Race Course

By now you should feel fairly comfortable and knowledgeable about what goes on at Pimlico Race Course. Ready to find out how to turn a profit once you get there? First things first – the good news.

You only have to be 18 years of age to place bets and cash in at Pimlico!

If you want to be fully acquainted with what is available, . Here you will find some pretty neat options that you may or may not have known even existed. If you are going to make the trip to the race course, don’t forget your wallet.

Betting on the horses is part of the experience, and you won’t want to miss out. If you aren’t making the trip this year, you can still find loads of betting options on the top sites. Watching horses race their hearts out and making a little bit of cash – that’s what horse racing is all about, after all!

Please note that you don’t HAVE to be present at Pimlico to bet on races on there. Most of the leading horse racing betting sites allow you to bet on this race over the internet.

The Conclusion

Pimlico Race Course is a part of American horse racing history. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to reminisce about “The Great Race” that took place in 1877, or when Smarty Jones walloped the field by 11.5 lengths at the 2004 Preakness Stakes.

We wanted to introduce the beginning of how Pimlico Race Course came to be before we jumped into the details of the racetrack. Obviously it was important to dedicate a large amount of the guide to the Preakness Stakes, as it is one of the three most significant races in all of horse racing.

You learned that despite its notoriety, the Preakness Stakes isn’t the only event held at Pimlico. After going over some other races held on site, like the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, we told you ladies and gentlemen how to get to the property should you ever want to experience what a Triple Crown Race is like in person.

Finally, we gave you a little bit of information on how to bet races at Pimlico. Whether you are fortunate enough to attend a race or you are just watching the stream online, betting on the races is right in front of you.

Are you looking to make some picks to win, place, and show? Pimlico Race Course has a whole lot to offer. It’s all right there for the taking!