After an eventful Kentucky Derby and the fate of Pimlico Race Course up in the air, this might be a good year to make your way to the Preakness. The 144th Preakness Stakes, the second race in the Triple Crown, will run on May 18 — the third Saturday in May as keeping with tradition. With disqualified Kentucky Derby front runner Maximum Security taking a pass on the race and winner Country House out because of illness, it’s any horse’s race.
And while the running of the Preakness and the Infield Fest are certainly the big draws, there are several other notable events leading up to the big race, including the popular Black-Eyed Susan Day, which is held annually the Friday before Preakness. Here are some highlights:
Sunrise at Old Hilltop, Tuesday, May 14 through Friday, May 17, 6 – 9 am
Starting on Tuesday of Preakness Week, Pimlico offers “Sunrise at Old Hilltop,” free 20-minute walking tours each morning. Visitors will learn all about Pimlico traditions and get an insider’s take on the horse racing industry. The tour includes an escorted tour of the stable area which could include a run-in with trainers, owners, exercise riders, and jockeys, a stop at the Pimlico Museum, and time to watch the Preakness contenders’ morning workouts. Reservations are not taken, so be sure to arrive early.
Alibi Breakfast, Thursday, May 16 at 9 am
Meet the trainers and learn about the contenders for this year’s Preakness Stakes at this annual breakfast celebrating the tradition of horseracing in Maryland.
In the late 1930s, on the porch of Pimlico’s historic Clubhouse, a group of trainers would gather with their horses to exchange racing knowledge. Today’s Alibi Breakfast is a successor of these original gatherings where trainers, jockeys and owners of Preakness horses give unique insight to racing fans and media about what it takes to become Thoroughbred racing’s next greatest legend.
Black-Eyed Susan Day, Friday, May 17
One of Pimlico’s oldest stakes races, the Black-Eyed Susan was first run at Pimlico in 1919 as the Pimlico Oaks. The name was changed in 1952 to complement the Preakness and to acknowledge the Maryland state flower. The mile and one-eighth race is strictly for three-year-old fillies, or female horses. Events include:
Runway on the Rail: Head to the Concourse Apron for an elevated fashion and retail experience. New in 2019, Runway on the Rail seeks to provide Black-Eyed Susan day guests with an unparalleled blend of fashion, boutique retail, premium bar access, rail views of world-class Thoroughbred racing, and more.
Hooves & Heels from 12 to 3 pm
Hooves: The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Best Turned Out Horse Award will be looking for the best groomed horse in every race. Winners will be announced at race time.
Heels: Candace Dold from Fox 45 News will serve as the Emcee.. Influencer, creative director and 2017’s Best of Baltimore Fashionista, Lana Rae, will be selecting women in their best Black-Eyed Susan Day fashions. Jesse Caris from Caris Photography will be on-site to capture the best dressed fashionistas and the best groomed horses. Ten lucky women will be finalists in the competition.
Book Signing from 12 to 2 pm
Meet Jennifer Kelly author of “Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown;” Linda Carroll author of “Out of the Clouds” and winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award; and
Peggy Rowe, author of the New York Times Best Seller “About My Mother.” The signing will take place in the Grandstand entrance from 12pm – 2pm. Books will be available for purchase.
Part of a long heritage of racing in Maryland, the first Preakness Stakes was run in 1873. The Preakness is a 1-3/16 mile race for 3 year olds. The day includes a full race card featuring the top performing thoroughbreds in the world.
When the winning horse crosses the finish line and has been officially declared the winner, race fans will be able to witness several Preakness traditions. Each year, a painter climbs to the top of the replica Old Clubhouse copula to paint the weather vane, which is shaped like a horse and rider. The colors of the winner’s silks are painted on the jockey and horse and will remain there until a new winner is declared in the next year’s Preakness a practice that began in 1909.
The owner of the winning horse is also presented with a $30,000 sterling silver replica of the Woodlawn Vase, initially created by Tiffany and Company in 1860 as a trophy for the old Woodlawn Racing Association. Until 1953, winners were awarded possession of the vase until the following Preakness. The original vase, valued at $1 million, is on display at The Baltimore Museum of Art and brought to Pimlico under guard for the annual running of the Preakness.
Finally, the winning horse is draped with a Black-Eyed Susan blanket made of 4,000 daisies. The centers are painted black to resemble Black-Eyed Susans, which do not bloom until June.
You can watch the race in the comfort of the grandstand or as part of the Infield Fest, with concerts by Kygo, Logic, Diplo, Juice Wrld, Fisher and Frank Walker.
Preakness Week events will be held at:
Pimlico Race Course
5201 Park Heights Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21215
Tickets to the 144th Preakness Stakes and Infield Fest range from $40 to $720 per person and feature unique, curated experiences that include two-day packages, amazing trackside views, and elevated race-day luxury.
For information and tickets, go to: http://www.preakness.com.