Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Preakness - The Second Leg of the Triple Crown

The following is a little history about The Preakness Stakes....

How the Preakness got its name
It was Preakness who turned up as a 3-year-old for his debut in the Dinner Party Stakes at Pimlico's inaugural in 1870. He was derided as a "cart horse" for his ungainly appearance, but won that first stakes at Old Hilltop, which became a history-producing victory. In his triumph, Preakness was ridden by English jockey Billy Hayward, who supplied the name for one of Pimlico's present adjoining streets. It was the colt's only start in 1870 but he left a lasting impression at Pimlico. Three years later, the Maryland Jockey Club honored him by calling its newest stakes race "Preakness". The Dinner Party Stakes eventually became the present-day Dixie Handicap.

The Painting of the Weather Vane
As soon as the Preakness winner has been declared official, a painter climbs a ladder to the top of a replica of the Old Ccupola. He applies the colors of the victorious owner’s silks on the jockey and horse which are part of the weather vane atop the infield structure. The paint job remains until next year's Preakness. The practice started in 1909 at Pimlico when a horse and rider weather vane sat at the top of the old Members’ Clubhouse, which was constructed when Pimlico opened in 1870. The Victorian building was destroyed by fire in June of 1966. A replica of the old building’s cupola was built to stand in the Preakness winner’s circle in the infield

Black-Eyes Susan Blanket
It is a long- tanding tradition to present the winner of the Preakness a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans, which is draped across the shoulders of the winning horse. Colonel Edward R. Bradley’s Bimelech in 1940 was the first winner to wear the floral blanket of Black-Eyed Susans. Construction of the blanket has varied in method from a loosely intertwined garland of flowers tied with hemp rope, to the current blanket type of presentation. The current Black-Eyed Susan blanket is created shortly before Preakness Day. Three ladies work full-time for two days to complete the project. The blanket is composed of more than 80 bunches of Viking daisies. A perforated spongy rubber matte is used as the base.

The Woodlawn Vase
The Woodlawn Vase, originally created by Tiffany and Company in 1860 as a trophy for the now defunct Woodlawn Racing Association in Louisville, is presented annually to the Preakness winner. The beautiful silver design assessed in 1983 for $1 million, is easily the most valuable trophy in American sports. Standing 34 inches tall and weighing 29 pounds, 12 ounces, the Woodlawn vase has a colorful history as rich as the classic race at which it is presented. It has been raced for in Louisville, Elizabeth, N.J., the Coney Island Jockey Club, Jerome Park, Morris Park, and since 1917, at Pimlico Race Course. Created as a challenge cup, the Woodlawn Vase was first won by Capt. T. G. Moore's mare, Mollie Jackson, in 1861. The same owner retained possession the following year through the victory of the famous mare Idlewind. The outbreak of the Civil War prevented further competition until 1866. The vase in the meantime was buried at Woodlawn with others of the Moore family plate, lest it be discovered and melted into shot. Following the war, the vase remained in Kentucky until 1878, when the Dwyer brothers captured it by the aid of Bramble and Jimmy McLaughlin in the American Stallion Stakes at Churchill Downs, Louisville. The Dwyer Brothers presented the vase to the Coney Island Jockey Club, where notable stables of the day competed vigorously for the vase for several years.....

My Picks
Win - Circular Quay
Place - Street Sense
Show - King of the Roxy


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