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 Looking Back

This month in mid-atlantic thoroughbred history! For Looking Back archives click here.

The largest crowd in Maryland turf history – 42,000 – turned out at Pimlico for the Preakness, and they poured $2 million through the windows, the first time the betting figure had ever been reached. King Ranch’s Kentucky Derby winner Assault held off Lord Boswell for the win. Humphrey Finney gave his account for May 11: “A great crowd was out at Old Hilltop today, and a fine race they saw. Assault got knocked about a bit and seemed straight as a string at the finish, but the important thing was, it was his nose that was in front at the end. Pimlico makes every attempt to make the best of its antiquated facilities, but the number of people who would like to have a bet and won’t face the jam on a big day is large. It will be a great day when the place is finally modernized or moved.”

  • An important step was taken by Maryland’s major tracks in support of Thoroughbred breeding in the state with the formation of a series of “Breeders’ Stakes” for 2-year-olds sponsored by each of the mile tracks – Pimlico, Havre de Grace, Laurel and Bowie.

    The series would launch in 1947 and the races would include Breeders’ awards, to be deducted from the added money in each race and paid back to third place. In order to be eligible for the races, a $10 fee due September of the Maryland-bred’s yearling year was to be paid to the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The tracks had slightly different conditions for the stakes – the Pimlico Breeders’ Stakes (the first of the series, to run during the spring meet) was for fillies foaled in the state. The final race of the series, at Bowie in the fall, was open to colts and fillies, but they had to be foaled in the state as well as sired by a Maryland stallion.

    The complete series ran through 1951, until the closure of Havre de Grace. The Bowie Breeders’ Stakes lasted through 1963 – the track’s early winter meet put an end to the juvenile race. The race at Pimlico last ran in 1965. The Maryland Futurity for Maryland-bred and sired runners – first offered in 1931 and the impetus for the series – had its last running in 1981. The list of Laurel winners included Challedon, Dancer’s Image, Speed to Spare, Tuscany, Jackie Dare, Miss Spin, Cojak and Mister Diz.

  • The 12th annual Maryland-bred yearling show was held on the clubhouse lawn at Pimlico two days before the Preakness. Veteran trainer Preston M. Burch was judge and selected as champion Sylvester Labrot Jr.’s *Quatre Bras II colt. Reserve champion went to Christiana Stable’s colt by Maryland stallion Briarlet.

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