By its very definition, a horse race is unpredictable. These are trained animals, competing at a high level, but they are still literally wild horses.
The 147th running of the Preakness Stakes is Saturday in Baltimore at the famed Pimlico. It’s the second part of the Triple Crown series, but there will be no Triple Crown this year as Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike won’t run in the nine-horse field.
Epicenter, who finished second at the Kentucky Derby, is expected to go off as the favorite. Secret Oath, a filly, is the wild card. Only six fillies have ever won the Preakness.
The Preakness is the shortest of the three triple crown races. Pimlico is crowded. Some would say dingy (I didn’t say that, but people do).
If you don’t have access to any of the in-person outlets there are several online platforms to help you enjoy and gamble on the Preakness. TVG is specifically geared toward horse betting and happy to accept your bet in Illinois.
The Preakness is all about passion. It’s a sprint. For that reason, it creates tension, drama and chills. Here are five of the closest chill-inducing Preakness finishes of all time.
1989: The sounds of silence
Sunday Silence had edged East Goer by two-and-a-half lengths in the Kentucky Derby, then the two matched strides again at Pimlico in what may be the best Preakness ever.
Easy Goer had trouble getting out of the gate and settled in the back of the pack, while Sunday Silence moved to stalk the leaders.
When Sunday Silence makes his big move, Easy Goer does too. It’s almost like they were ignoring all the other horses in the field. Sunday Silence moves to the lead and it becomes a two-horse race.
Sunday Silence wins in a photo finish, noses apart. Easy Goer would win the Belmont by eight lengths to deny his rival the Triple Crown.
1978: The greatest, round 8
The greatest rivalry in horse racing is Affirmed and Alydar and their performances in the Triple Crown races that year. You can not – and should not – mention one without the other.
After Affirmed and Alydar dueled in the Kentucky Derby, only five other horses made the trip to Pimlico, as if an acknowledgment that these were the two best horses.
It’s an easy place to start. Affirmed leads at halfway mark, Alydar starts to make his move on the backstretch and the crowd roars. It becomes a neck-and-neck race to the wire between the two. Alydar on the outside pushing, Affirmed unyielding.
Affirmed would win by a neck and then again outduel Alydar to win Belmont and the Triple Crown.
2012: Another classic
Even though I’ll Have Another had won the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister was the favorite at Pimlico in 2012 with the sharps believing he had the speed to better handle the shorter race.
Bodemeister sets the easy pace and leads almost the entire race until the Derby champion comes roaring down the homestretch.
At 300 yards, I’ll Have Another is still two lengths back. 100 yards later, he’s on Bodemeister’s flank. With 50 yards to go, he gets ahead and drives to the finish for the win. It was a stunning display of talent and speed.
I’ll Have Another became the 33rd horse to win both the Preakness and Kentucky Derby, but a tendon injury kept him out of the Belmont.
1937: Admiral on board
The Preakness was still coming into its own as a major horse race in America when reigning Kentucky Derby champion War Admiral showed up in 1937 a week later for the Preakness (yes, it was only one week between races).
War Admiral was the son of horse legend Man o’ War and was 35 to 100 to win.
The only challenger in the field was Pompoon, but the race looked over early as War Admiral surged to the lead and led by a length-and-a-half entering the homestretch.
Pompoon put on a huge challenge pushing War Admiral. It was a photo finish (one of the first in the Preakness) and War Admiral won by a gallop. He would win the Triple Crown.
1969: Your majesty
Majestic Prince was undefeated and coming off a strong Kentucky Derby triumph entering the Preakness.
By the time the horses were on the backstretch, Majestic Prince was well back, but then he accelerated and took the lead on the far turn. Arts and Letters tracks him down on the stretch but Majestic Prince is able to win by a head.
Arts and Letters claimed a foul on Majestic Prince right after the start, but the protest was denied. It was his ninth straight win.
Majestic Prince’s owners claimed an injury and weren’t going to send him to the Belmont, but intense pressure forced them to enter. Arts and Letters won the Belmont by five-and-a-half lengths over Majestic Prince who never raced again.