Headed by Maryland-bred Challedon, 114 horses were made eligible to the 1939 Preakness Stakes. Challedon, winner of three Futurities that fall–the Maryland, New England and Pimlico–was considered a strong contender.
“Son of imported Challenger II, by Swynford, and out of Laura Gal, a *Sir Gallahad III mare, Challedon should find the Preakness route of a mile and three-sixteenths right down his alley,” wrote The Maryland Horse. “That he runs well over the local course is indicated by his smashing triumph in the Pimlico Futurity this fall.”
Battleship was named Horse of the Year by Horse & Horseman, following his victory in the 1938 Grand National at Aintree. The son of Man o’ War had been retired to stud at his owner Marion duPont Scott’s Montpelier in Virginia.
It was also announced that William duPont Jr. would receive the publication’s Golden Spurs, awarded annually to America’s outstanding horseman. He was “honored as being an outstanding breeder of horses; author of the Delaware racing law and operator of a model track, Delaware Park; champion of distance racing, higher purses for fillies and racing over turf?. . . as designer of the ideal steeplechase jump and the operator of the best steeplechasing course in the U.S. at Fair Hill, Md.; as master of an outstanding pack of hounds?. . . as a modest and retiring sportsman.”
Among the stallions standing in the region were: Discovery (Sagamore, Glyndon, Md.), *Sun Briar and Sun Beau (Court Manor, New Market, Va.), Ladkin (Country Life, Bel Air, Md.), High Quest (Brookmeade, Upperville, Va.) and *Challenger II (Glade Valley, Frederick, Md.).