Pimlico Race Course
|Pimlico Race Course|
Pimlico Race Course Logo
|Location|| 5201 Park Heights Avenue, |
Baltimore, Maryland Flag of the United States
|Owned by||Magna Entertainment Corp.|
|Screened on||NBC (Preakness Stakes)|
|Notable Races|| Preakness Stakes (gr.1)|
Pimlico Special Handicap (gr.1)
Dixie Stakes (gr.2)
Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr.2)
Pimlico Race Course is a horse racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland, most famous for hosting the Preakness Stakes. Its name is derived from the 1660s when English settlers called the area where the facility currently stands in honor of Olde Ben Pimlico's Tavern in London. The racetrack is nicknamed "Old Hilltop" after a small rise in the infield that became a favorite gathering place for thoroughbred trainers and race enthusiasts.
Pimlico officially opened in the fall of 1870, with the colt Preakness winning the first running of the Dinner Party Stakes. Three years later the horse would have the 1873 Preakness Stakes named in his honor. The track is also noted as the home for the match race in which Seabiscuit beat War Admiral in the second Pimlico Special, on November 1, 1938, before a crowd of 43,000.
It is currently owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., which entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2009. On April 13, 2009, the Maryland General Assembly approved a bill authorizing the state to purchase Pimlico if Magna cannot find a buyer. It was signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley the following day.
The Preakness Stakes and the Pimlico Special are run at a distance of 1 3/16 miles. The Pimlico track record for that distance is held by Farma Way, who set it while winning the Pimlico Special in 1991.
In the century and more since its opening, Pimlico Race Track has weathered much outside history including the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Great Fire of Baltimore (1904) and several notable Baltimore riots. Pimlico also survived Prohibition and even an anti-gambling movement in 1910. As Alfred G. Vanderbilt said, “Pimlico is more than a dirt track bounded by four streets. It is an accepted American institution, devoted to the best interests of a great sport, graced by time, respected for its honorable past.” The races held at Pimlico draw spectators from neighboring states, with The Preakness being the outstanding yearly event. In 2007, 121,263 people were in attendance to watch the Preakness, the largest number of people to watch a sporting event in Maryland history. More than $87.2 million was placed in bets.
On March 23rd, 2010 an agreement was reached to sell the two Maryland Jockey Club tracks (Pimlico and Laurel Park) from Magna Entertainment Corporation to its parent company MI Development. MI Development will receive the tracks from M.E.C. in exchange for paying $25 million in cash for claims to Maryland Jockey Club creditors and $89 million to other creditors through a new reorganization plan. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, have until April 30 to approve Magna's reorganization plan.
The track has a one-mile dirt oval and a seven furlong turf oval. There is stabling for about 1,000 horses, and the attendance capacity, including the infield, is over 120,000.
The following stakes are run at Pimlico (in order of grade, then year inaugurated):
Grade 1 Stakes Races:
- Preakness Stakes (1873)
- Pimlico Special (1937)
Grade 2 Stakes Races:
- Dixie Stakes (1870)
- Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (1919)
Grade 3 Stakes Races:
- Gallorette Handicap (1952)
- Chick Lang Stakes (1975)
- Miss Preakness Stakes (1986)
Listed (ungraded) Stakes Races:
- James A. Murphy Stakes (1966)
- Hilltop Stakes (1973)
- Geisha Handicap (1973)
- Federico Tesio Stakes (1981)
- The Very One Stakes (1993)
- Skipat Stakes (1993)
- Barbaro Stakes (1999)
- Henry S. Clark Stakes (2001)
- Jim McKay Turf Sprint (2006)
- Shine Again Stakes (2006)
Pimlico Race Course was the original United States site for Virgin Festival from its beginnings in 2006 through 2008. The first one was held on September 23 of that year, featuring bands such as The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Who. In 2007, it was a two-day festival held on August 4–5 and featured popular acts such as The Police, Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins and Velvet Revolver. Its name was slightly changed to Virgin Mobile Festival when it returned to Pimlico for the third straight year on August 9-10, 2008, with five headliners: Foo Fighters, Kanye West, Stone Temple Pilots, Jack Johnson and Nine Inch Nails. The event moved to Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009.