Pimlico Race Course is the home of the Preakness Stakes. This race course opened in 1870, making it the second oldest racetrack in the United States. Pimlico Race Course has hosted famous horses such as Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and American Pharaoh. This course is one of the largest sources of revenue in Maryland, and it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Maryland’s governor in 1868, Oden Bowie, was at a dinner party with some
of his friends in Saratoga, New York. Bowie and his friends thoroughly enjoyed
the evening, so the men suggested hosting some type of event to commemorate their splendid evening. Because Bowie and his friends were prominent racing figures,
they agreed to run a horse race in two years to remember the evening. They also
agreed that the winner would host the losers for dinner. Interestingly, the men
agreed on which colts would run the race in two years. Following this
agreement, the jockey club in Saratoga and the American Jockey Club vied to
host this event. Oden Bowie accepted the
American Jockey Club’s bid because he wanted the race to take place in
Maryland. The American Jockey Club purchased 70 acres of land in Pimlico,
Maryland, for $23,000.
General John Ellicott engineered the construction of the
racetrack, and he completed the project in time for the Governor Bowie’s race. Governor
Bowie and his friends referred to the opening race as The Dinner Party Stakes. Milton
Sanford’s thoroughbred horse Preakness won the race. Thus, Preakness’s name is
now the namesake for one of the most important horse races. Additionally, the Dinner
Party Stakes is now known as the Dixie Stakes, and it is the eighth-oldest
graded stakes race in America. Since this inaugural race, much history has happened
at this track.
Local residents referred to the race course as “Old Hilltop” since there
was a rise in the infield. This gently sloping hill in the center of the course
was a popular gathering place for elite horse owners, business executives, and
fashionable individuals. Hundreds of people would gather on this small hill to
socialize in between races. Many single individuals would also visit the hilltop
in hopes of meeting someone. Videographers, however, wanted the hill removed
because it blocked cameras from capturing the backstretch of the track.
Demolition of the hilltop concluded in April 1938. Current elite members of
society, however, have continued the tradition of socializing at the Pimlico Race Course. Today, the Corporate Village of the Preakness hosts over 5,000
business executives and social elites in a 21st Century “garden