Historic Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes®, first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, making it the second oldest racetrack in the nation behind Saratoga, which debuted in 1864 in upstate New York. Pimlico has played host to racing icons for more than a century and is where Baltimoreans have seen legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Sir Barton, Citation, Secretariat, Spectacular Bid, and Cigar thunder down the stretch in thrilling and memorable competition.
The match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in the 1938 Pimlico Special was voted “Race of The Century.” More than 40,000 turned out for the event and President Franklin D. Roosevelt halted proceedings during a cabinet meeting so a radio could be brought in to hear the call.
The marquee event of the year, the Preakness Stakes®, proved very successful in 2012. A total of $80.4 million was wagered on the card, the sixth largest handle in the history of the event. Attendance figures have topped six-figures in 10 of the last 12 years.
In July, 2002, Magna Entertainment Corp. (now The Stronach Group) purchased Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, which are operated under the trade name Maryland Jockey Club, from the De Francis family.