Racehorse Preakness, namesake for Triple Crown's middle jewel, elected to Hall of Fame

From Sun staff and news services

The thoroughbred Preakness and English trainer William Lakeland were elected Wednesday to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame.

Preakness, the namesake of the middle leg of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, was born in 1867 at Woodburn Farm in Kentucky. He debuted as a 3-year-old on Oct. 25, 1870, winning the Dinner Party Stakes at the inaugural Pimlico meeting.

The idea for the Dinner Party Stakes began after a gathering held by Milton H. Sanford following the races at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. John Hunter of New York proposed that the dinner be commemorated by a stakes race to be run in the fall of 1870 for 3-year old colts and fillies at 2 miles. Maryland Gov. Oden Bowie suggested a purse of $15,000 and that the stakes be run here, pledging to build a racetrack to host it. The idea for what’s now Pimlico Race Course was born.

Sanford’s Preakness, a bay colt, was one of only two male entrants in the inaugural Dinner Party Stakes at Pimlico, ridden to victory by jockey Billy Hayward. Three years later, the Maryland Jockey Club honored the horse by calling its newest stakes race the “Preakness.” The Dinner Party Stakes eventually became the present-day Dixie, the eighth-oldest stakes race in the United States.

The name Preakness started with the Minsi, a northern New Jersey tribe of Native Americans. They called the area “Pra-que-les,” meaning quail woods, and the name eventually evolved into Preakness. General George Washington used the term “Preckniess” to describe the area where his troops were quartered in the winter of 1776-77, and nearly a quarter of a century later, Sanford, a thoroughbred owner, called his farms — one in New Jersey and another in Kentucky — Preakness.

When Sanford bought a yearling sired by Lexington and foaled by Bay Leaf from R. A. Alexander, he named the colt, which was bred at Kentucky at Woodburn Farm, Preakness. The eighth foal of Bay Leaf cost Sanford $2,000.

Preakness also won the Jockey Club Handicap, Manhattan Handicap and Grand National Handicap in 1873; the Jockey Club Stakes in 1874; and the Baltimore Cup the following year. He concluded his nine-year career with a record of 18-12-2 from 39 starts, with earnings of $39,820.

Lakeland was a successful jockey before becoming a trainer in the late 1870s. He won the 1894 Preakness with Assignee, and captured the Coney Island Handicap four times; the Futurity three times; and the Metropolitan Handicap, Brooklyn Handicap, Brighton Cup and Matron twice each.

Preakness and Lakeland join Eclipse Award-winning filly Heavenly Prize in the Class of 2018. They will be joined by the Pillars of the Turf Committee's selections, which will be announced May 23. The induction ceremony will take place Friday, Aug. 3, at 10:30 a.m. at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs.

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