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The Numbers Game in Horses: A Peek Inside the Preakness Stakes

17 May, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

When Baltimore becomes, for one day, horse country. When people are sucking down drinks euphemistically called the Black-Eyed Susan (but taste a bit like cough syrup). And when everyone is eying a horse named Always Dreaming, hoping he takes the next step toward the elusive Triple Crown, it must be Preakness.

But despite the party atmosphere (and the bacchanalia, and the absurdity) of the infield, this day is really about the numbers-- at least from an event management perspective. The following statistics are good fodder for watch parties and bar bets. Early odds do favor Always Dreaming, but many factors can affect those odds, including weather, other horses, track length and more..

The Maryland Department of Commerce’s officer of research has reported the following statistics:

131,680: Spectator attendance at the 140th running of the Preakness (2015), which broke records.

$85,814,142: Total bet on the racing card that day

$6,177,230: Total bet in-state

$8.3 Million: Direct expenditures generated by raceday operations

$10.6 Million: Spend resulting from visitors to the Preakness and Preakness Celebration

$30 million: The amount of economic impact for the city the Preakness gives. (It also imparts a priceless prestige factor, according to Pressbox.)

1:53: Fastest time the Preakness was ever run (Secretariat in 1973)

The following facts came from the PreaknessBetting.com site:

Two: Number of female jockeys who have raced at the Preakness: Patricia Cooksey in 1985, who finished sixth on Tajawa; and Adrea Seefeldt who finished seventh in 1994 aboard Looking.

Zero: Number of female trainers in the history of Preakness Stakes.

Two: The number of trainer/jockey combinations who have ridden to victory in the Preakness. Louis Schaefer rode Dr. Freeland in 1929 and then trained Challedon in 1939. Johnny Longdon rode Count Fleet in 1943 and trained the winner in 1969, Majestic Prince.

Six: The most time any jockey has won the Preakness. (For what it’s worth, it was Eddie Arcaro who won  on..  Whirlaway/1941, Citation/1948, Hill Prince/1950, Bold/1951, Nashua/1955, and Bold Ruler/1957. Only Pat Day has come as close, winning five times (1985, 1990, 1994, 1995 and 1996.)

Five: Number of fillies who have won the Preakness in the 134-race history. They are Flocarline/1903, Whimsical/1906, Rhine Maiden/ 1915, Nellie Morse/ 1924 and Rachel Alexandra/2009.

13th: The farthest outside position from which any horse has ever won (the aforementioned Rachel Alexandra , ridden by Calvin Borel)

Nine: Number of Preakness winners who have passed on their winning genes and sired other Preakness winners. They are: Bold Ruler (Secretariat); Bold Venture (Assault); Gallant Fox (Omaha); Man o' War (War Admiral); Polynesian (Native Dancer); Citation (Fabius); Native Dancer (Kauai King), Secretariat (Risen Star) and Summer Squall (Charismatic).

Seven: The most wins any trainer ever had (R. Wyndham Walden, for what it’s worth, who won with Tom Ochiltree in 1875, Duke of Magenta 1878, Harold in 1879, Grenada in 1880, Saunterer in 1881, Vanguard in 1882 and Refund in 1888. (More recently, D. Wayne Lukas has five wins and Bob Baffert has four.)

11½ Lengths: Largest margin of victory (Smarty Jones in 2004). This broke the record held by Survivor ever since the first race, with a 10-length margin. Funny Cide won by 9¾ lengths in 2003. (Most races in the history of Preakness Stakes have gone down to the wire with six races being decided by a nose finish and as many as eleven being won by a head.)

One: Time 26 horses entered the race and it had to be run in two divisions (1918). These days, the field is limited to 14 horses.

The following statistics are courtesy of BetFirm:

Zero: The number of Black-Eyed Susans in the wreath that is draped around the winner’s neck. It’s the state flower of Maryland, but it actually only blooms in late summer and fall so the winner actually gets covered with Viking Daisies, which are painted by florists in order to look like Black-Eyed Susans.

Eleven: The number of times the Preakness was held prior to the Kentucky Derby (back in the dark ages before this became a tradition – it happened in the period between 1888 and 1931, actually.)

One: Number of times the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes were both held on the same day (in 1890)

And as long as you're pursuing trivia, here’s a bonus round for you: the names of all the Triple Crown winners and the years they took that prize: American Pharaoh (2015), Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977), Secretariat (1973), Citation (1948), Assault (1946), Count Fleet (1943), Whirlaway (1941), War Admiral (1937), Omaha (1935), Gallant Fox (1930) and Sir Barton (1919). There. Go memorize them all, then spew ‘em back and make your friends buy you a round of black-eyed Susans at the bar.

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