Maryland Jockey Club
The Maryland Jockey Club is a sporting organization dedicated to horse racing, founded in Annapolis in 1743. The Jockey Club was founded more than 30 years before the start of the Revolutionary War and is chartered as the oldest sporting organization in North America. After 267 years it remains the corporate name of the company that operates; Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland which opened in 1870, Laurel Park Racecourse in Laurel, Maryland which opened in 1911 and Bowie Race Track in Bowie, Maryland which opened as race course in 1914 and ceased operations as a track in 1985. The track now serves as a training center for Thoroughbred racehorses.
The Maryland Jockey Club is founded in 1743. The Annapolis Subscription Plate, the second oldest trophy in America and the oldest recorded formal horse race in Maryland, was won in that same year of 1743 by George Hume Steuart's Dungannon.
Irregular race meetings were held in spring and autumn seasons during an eleven year span from 1755 through 1766. The exact dates, start times and number of races carded during these meeting were not uniform in part due to interference from the French and Indian War.
Future president of the United States George Washington attended the Maryland Jockey Club race meting frequently in 1762 going to the track for almost every carded event. He also attended race meetings in 1766, 1767, 1771, 1772 and 1773.
Regularly scheduled race meetings were held during both the spring and autumn in 1969 with uniform start times and number of races carded. The meets were run in Annapolis, Maryland. The races were continued in this fashion at that same location until 1775. In the autumn of 1775 the Maryland Jockey Club postponed all racing, due to the break out of war, upon the recommendation of Congress, "in consequense of report upon the state of the country. All should quietly return to their homes."
In 1782, some Annapolis races resumed in Autumn, the country having returned to a state of normalcy following the Revolutionary War. The Maryland Jockey Club revitalized on March 1, 1783 some six months before the formal peace treaty ending the war was signed by two Jockey Club members; Governor William Paca and Charles Carroll of Carrollton (both also signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The Maryland Jockey Club was issued a new charter by the U.S. Congress in 1930 which is now displayed in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.. General T. M. Forman was elected president of the Jockey Club; B. H. Cohen, treasurer; and J. S. Skinner, corresponding secretary. With the decline of Annapolis and the growth of Baltimore as an economic center, the Maryland Jockey Club shifted its operations to "Central Course, Baltimore," about five miles southwest of the city on the Frederick Pike.
In 1831, President Andrew Jackson became a member of the Maryland Jockey Club and races his very own White House Stable in meets under the name of his secretary, A. J. Donelson.
In 1867 the site of present day Pimlico Race Course was incorporated for a track by the state by way of the Maryland General Assembly. In 1868 Saratoga Race Course in New York revived its racing program after its interruption by the U.S. Civil War. Maryland Governor Oden Bowie and others attended that Saratoga meet and devised the Dinner Party Stakes (now called the Dixie Stakes) for a track in Baltimore.
In September 1869, the first Maryland State Fair was held at Pimlico Race Course.
The present site of the Maryland Jocket Club was opened at Pimlico on October 25, 1870. A new corporation (Pimlico) was organized on May 14 of that same year in a ballroom of the Barnum's City Hotel in Baltimore. Governor Oden Bowie was elected its first President. The first stakes race held at the track was the Dinner Party Stakes and it was won by Preakness, a son of Lexington on October, 27, 1870. Stakes races also run that year were the "Breakfast Stakes" and the "Bowie Stakes," both were won by Glenelg.
In 1873, Pimlico staged the first Preakness Stakes a classic event for three year-olds. There were seven starters from 21 subscribers to pre-liminary races. Survivor won the inaugural Preakness Stakes which was named for the winner of the first Dinner Party Stakes.
In 1876, the Maryland Jockey Club presented nine stakes races (then a record), which attracted 312 nominations. The signature event of the meet was the fourth running of the Preakness Stakes which was won by Shirley.
In 1877, the United States Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate adjourned on October 24 so that members of both houses could witness a race of intersectional scope in which Parole, Ten Broeck and Tom Ochiltree met. They finished in that order in what was to become known as "the Big Race" in a stakes program of ten stakes races.