History of the Triple Crown Series: The Fastest Preakness Stakes Race Times of American Thoroughbred Horses
Some of the greatest horses that have competed in the Triple Crown Series have set winning records at the Preakness Stakes in Maryland.
Since its founding in 1873, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore has gone through several changes but remains essentially the same since 1925 when Pimlico was built with a 1 3/16 mile distance.
Read below to discover the fastest racehorses in Preakness Stakes history.
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- Swiss paratrooper
- Reservoir Perspective
- Louis Fourteen
Widely considered the greatest racehorse in the history of the sport, Secretariat holds the crown with the fastest record at the Preakness Stakes. Known for his maroon coat and three white socks, the stallion became the first horse in more than two decades to win the Triple Crown in 1973 and did so by setting records at the biggest horse racing events in the UNITED STATES.
In May 1973, Secretariat started the Preakness race last but showed his speed capabilities with momentum that quickly put him in the lead. Secretariat held on to first place to the finish line while setting a record time at Pimlico Racecourse at 1:53 sharp. The performance shocked onlookers and helped to skyrocket Secretariat’s fame and reputation.
However, for decades, the official record set by the Secretariat remained miscalculated at 1:54 2/5. In 2012, the record was officially corrected after a forensic examination of the tapes discovered that the race timekeeper had not kept time correctly. During the race, the stallion sprinted the remaining 3/16 of a mile in exactly 18 4/5s, about 2 ½ lengths ahead of his nearest rival, Sham.
2. Swiss paratrooper
In recent years, one of the racehorses to come close to the record set by the Secretariat for the winner of the triple crown at the Preakness Stakes was Swiss Skydiver in October 2020. The race took place five months later than its date initial debut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing Skydiver to mature for several more months before having to compete.
The female took command of the field beating the Kentucky Derby champion Authentic by the second fastest time in race history at 1:53 28 seconds. Initially, Skydiver maintained her speed for the start of the race between 24 and 50 seconds, however, she released speed midway through, measuring the lead at around a minute. The mare cemented her position in racehorse history with performance, nearly surpassing Secretariat’s record.
3. Tank perspective
Bay stallion Tank’s Prospect set the third fastest time in the Preakness Stakes in 1982 beating Chief’s Crown by a head in 1:53 2/5. Initially, Tank performed well early in the race, falling to the back of the field most of the time. However, at the last minute, the stallion sprinted and finished victorious and set a Preakness record.
The young horse did not perform well in the first leg of the Triple Crown series, placing seventh at the Kentucky Derby; however, his victory at the Preakness Stakes changed the tone and gave him momentum for the Belmont. However, Tank was injured early in the race and was unable to finish, thus ending his racing career and prospects.
4. Louis Quatorze
Louis Quatorze, known for his quick victory in the 1996 Preakness Stakes, where he finished with a time of 1:53.43 seconds, comes in at No. 4. Previously, the young stallion had a disastrous finish weeks before during of the Kentucky Derby, coming in 16th place out of a 19-horse race. However, his victory at the Preakness helped solidify his racing legacy.
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Louis Quatorze crossed Gate 6 with impressive speed and was able to take and maintain a lead at the start of the race. Additionally, he fended off a challenge from Skip Away at around 1:09 and won by 3 ¼ in length. At the time, Louis’ record was thought to be comparable to one set by the Secretariat years before before it was revised in 2012.
Curlin finishes at No. 5 as one of the best record holders at Pimlico Racecourse. The May 2007 story of the stallion is another example of a racehorse winning the Preakness after being late to the start of the event. Between 20 seconds and one minute into the race, Curlin fell 13 lengths behind first place, but was able to rally his speed against defeated Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
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The time set by Curlin was 1:53.46 seconds. The horse would go on to have a remarkable career and win two Horse of the Year titles before retiring in 2008 with some of the highest earnings in North America at over $10 million.