Pimlico Race Track is a thoroughbred horse racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland….which is most famous for hosting the Preakness Stakes….the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown….whose name is derived from the 1660’s when English settlers named the area where the facility currently stands in honor of Olde Ben Pimlico’s Tavern in London….as 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….when 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 2nd Pimlico Special on November 1, 1938 before a crowd of 43,000. The capacity of the stadium seating area is 98,983. 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 1904 Great Fire of Baltimore….the Great Depression of the 1930’s….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.” It is currently owned by Maryland Jockey Club.