Pimlico Race Course
Baltimore, Maryland 21215
Pimlico Race Course is a horse racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland, most famous for hosting the Preakness Stakes. Its name is derived from the 1660s when English settlers called the area where the facility currently stands in honor of Olde Ben Pimlico's Tavern in London. The racetrack is nicknamed "Old Hilltop" after a small rise in the infield that became a favorite gathering place for thoroughbred trainers and race enthusiasts.
Pimlico officially opened in the fall of 1870, with the colt Preakness winning the first running of the Dinner Party Stakes. Three years later the horse would have the 1873 Preakness Stakes named in his honor. The track is also noted as the home for the match race in which Seabiscuit beat War Admiral in the second Pimlico Special, on November 1, 1938, before a crowd of 43,000.
It is currently owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., which entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2009. On April 13, 2009, the Maryland General Assembly approved a bill authorizing the state to purchase Pimlico if Magna cannot find a buyer. It was signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley the following day.
The Preakness Stakes and the Pimlico Special are run at a distance of 1 3/16 miles. The Pimlico track record for that distance is held by Farma Way, who set it while winning the Pimlico Special in 1991.
Pimlico Race Track has gone through many different things through out the century plus it has been open. Everything from wars fought in the area, to depressions and recessions, the major one being the Great Depression of the 1930's. Pimlico also experience the Great Fires of Baltimore and the Baltimore Riots. Pimlico survived the prohibition period that hurt the country and even an anti-gambling movement in 1910. Alfred G. Vanderbilt said, “Pimlico is more than a dirt track bounded by four streets. It is an accepted American institution, devoted to the best interests of a great sport, graced by time, respected for its honorable past.” This is very true; people come out from across multiple states to watch these races. The Preakness being the main attraction draws people from everywhere. In 2007, 121,263 people packed into Pimlico to watch the Preakness. This is the largest record number of people to watch a sporting event in Maryland. That day more than $87.2 million was placed on the horse race in bets.
The track has a one-mile dirt oval and a seven furlong turf oval. There is stabling for about 1,000 horses, and the attendance capacity, including the infield, is over 120,000.
Pimlico Race Course was the original United States site for Virgin Festival from its beginnings in 2006 through 2008. The first one was held on September 23 of that year, featuring bands such as The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Who. In 2007, it was a two-day festival held on August 4–5 and featured popular acts such as The Police, Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins and Modest Mouse. Its name was slightly changed to Virgin Mobile Festival when it returned to Pimlico for the third straight year on August 9-10, 2008, with five headliners: Foo Fighters, Kanye West, Stone Temple Pilots, Jack Johnson and Nine Inch Nails. The event moved to Merriweather Post Pavilion in 2009.