|Written by Jerry Santiago|
Bet on HorsesThe Preakness Stakes just wouldn’t be the same without a little horse racing betting to spice things up. After all, why should the horses have all the fun? Preakness is the marquee meet of the Maryland racing season, featuring several races and millions of dollars in prizes. “Springtime in Maryland is always an exciting time,” Maryland Jockey Club President and Chief Operating Officer Lou Raffetto has said. It is exciting too for people betting on horses, who also stand to make a killing. But gambling will not be the only tradition at the Pimlico Race Course come May 21st.
Right after the horses are called to the post, the audience is invited to sing the official state song Maryland, My Maryland. As soon as the horse racing betting winner is announced, a painter climbs a ladder to the top of a replica of the Old Clubhouse cupola and paints the colors of the victorious owner's silks on the jockey and horse that are part of the weather vane atop the infield structure. A blanket of yellow flowers coated with black lacquer to recreate the appearance of a black-eyed Susan is placed around the neck of the winning horse at this time, and a replica of the Woodlawn Vase is given to the owner of the winning horse. If that horse has also won the Kentucky Derby, speculation and excitement immediately begin to mount among people betting on horses as to whether it will go on to win the Triple Crown.
For instance, last year champion American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing winner in 37 years, having previously won the Kentucky Derby and going on to win the Belmont Stakes. Unfortunately, that means we will probably not see another Triple Crown winner this year. The only years that there were back-to-back Triple Crown winners were 1977 and 1978 – and as if some sacred seal had been broken, we were cursed with a near-40-year draught. On the other hand, that means there is a precedent, so let’s keep fingers crossed and see what happens.
It has been said that having the Preakness in Baltimore is like World Series or Super Bowl of horse racing betting. Started in 1873 and continuously run since 1894, it is the shortest of the three races that make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.
Yet, the Preakness Stakes has remained throughout history a true test of a horse's ability and class, a race where remarkable horses meet one another other in a great classic. Poet Ogden Nash put it best when he wrote, “The Derby is a race of aristocratic sleekness, for horses of birth to prove their worth to run in the Preakness.”