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May means Preakness time in the Mid-Atlantic, and Maryland in particular. Through the years, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown has provided thrills, chills and memories. Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred’s Cindy Deubler caught up with some industry players with a simple question: “What’s your most memorable Preakness?”

1971–Canonero II. “I have been attending the Preakness since 1966, and the most memorable was the moment the starting gate opened in 1971. Canonero II had won the Kentucky Derby in an unfathomable upset, but he was dismissed as a fluke when he came to Baltimore, and was given little chance because of the come-from-far-behind style he had displayed in Louisville. But he came flying out of the gate at Pimlico, battled for the lead from the opening strides and drew away to win in track record time. The improbable colt from Venezuela was for real!”
–Andrew Beyer, Washington Post columnist and handicapper
2009–Rachel Alexandra. “My most favorite Preakness is Rachel Alexandra’s year. The whole year that she was running, prior to the Preakness, was very exciting and brought more fans, especially women, into horse racing. She was a ‘monster’ of a filly, ability wise and also physically. She beat the 3-year-old boys, older boys, 3-year-old girls, and older mares. I don’t think I have ever screamed so much for a horse to win, the day she won the Preakness!”–Georganne Hale, Pimlico racing secretary
1989–Sunday Silence & Easy Goer. “Each Preakness is unforgettable in its very own way . . . the 1997 triple horse photo finish with Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit and Free House was thrilling, and Rachel Alexandra’s victory in 2009 was spectacular . . . but for me, the 1989 battle between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer will forever remain seared in my memory, not just because it was the kind of nail-biting, heart-pounding stretch duel that to this day still gives me goose bumps, but because it was the very last Preakness my father and I enjoyed together before he died three months later.”
Karin De Francis, former part-owner and executive vice-president of Pimlico and daughter of the late track owner Frank J. De Francis
2005–Afleet Alex. “ ‘Afleet Alex has room to roll at the quarter pole’ is what I remember saying, until a drifting Scrappy T came out into Alex’s path as they turned for home. Undeterred, the heart and athleticism of Afleet Alex AND jockey Jeremy Rose recovered in unison to surge to the lead in a matter of strides, as if there was never a straw in their path.”
–Dave Rodman, Pimlico track announcer
2005–Afleet Alex. “Obviously, the injury to Barbaro comes to mind. But my favorite race was when Afleet Alex won after nearly going to the ground turning for home. Jeremy Rose did a great job hanging on and keeping Afleet Alex on his feet. Rose had to more or less re-start Afleet Alex after Scrappy T interfered. I remember the crowd gasping as one when it appeared something awful was about to happen. Then came cheers both of relief and awe at what Rose and Afleet Alex accomplished. . .”
–Kenny Mayne, ESPN anchor and reporter
2009–Rachel Alexandra. “It’s a toss-up, but the electrifying, historic moment we witnessed in 2009 with Rachel Alexandra beating the boys still gives me chills. I’ll never forget the exclusive interview we got with Jess Jackson the night before the race as he arrived on his private jet at a local airport. . . his limo pulled up, he jumped out, gave me the most gracious interview about his fabulous filly, then jumped back into his limo, and away he went. We reconvened the next day in the winner’s circle. The following morning I did Good Morning America and talked about Rachel’s achievement.”
–Jeannine Edwards, ESPN and ABC reporter
1983–Deputed Testamony. “The Preakness I didn’t think could ever happen, that happened, was when Deputed Testamony won it. He shipped in late, was the lesser half of the entry (with Parfaitement), it just didn’t seem like he’d win the Preakness. Yet it wasn’t a fluke, since he came back the next year and set a track record at Pimlico, which has yet to be broken. It was a great story, a family triumph. It seemed almost like a dream.”
–Joe Kelly, Maryland racing historian
1978–Affirmed & Alydar. “One week before the running of that year’s Preakness, I received the great news that ABC Television had chosen me to call the Preakness for a national audience, on the telecast with Howard Cosell and Jim McKay. As part of what many consider the greatest Triple Crown series in history, that entire race raised the adrenaline level probably as high as I ever experienced in my life. From the sixteenth pole to the wire were the most exhilarating seconds of my professional racing career – as Alydar steadily closed in on Affirmed. And at the wire, Affirmed prevailed and won by a neck. To my great delight, as the horses came to the finish line, I nailed the finish of the race.”
–Dick Woolley, retired Pimlico track announcer


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