HISTORY IN THE MAKING AT OLD HILLTOP

Published By: 
Phil Janack
Published: 
May 15, 2014

            As the second-oldest racetrack in the United States behind Saratoga Race Course, Pimlico has seen its share of history over the past 144 years.

            In 1877, the U.S. House of Representatives adjourned for the only time in its existence to watch a match race between Parole, Ten Broeck and Tom Ochiltree, won in an upset by Parole.

            Duke of Magenta won the first Preakness Stakes in 1878. Thirty years later, Emmanuele Cedrino established a new automobile record for a mile on a circular track at Pimlico, making a lap in 51 seconds. After finishing, Cedrino’s car went out of control, throwing and fatally injuring the Italian driver.

            Sir Barton, the first Kentucky Derby winner to run in the Preakness, won at Pimlico and later added the Belmont Stakes to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 1919. In those days, the Preakness was run four days after the Derby.

            Seabiscuit beat War Admiral in their famous match race in the 1938 Pimlico Special. Bryan G. won the 1951 edition in the first race television nationally in the United States.

            Last spring, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas upset the Preakness with Oxbow, his 14thvictory in a Triple Crown race to pass legendary ‘Sunny Jim’ Fitzsimmons for the most of all time.

            Another chapter in the track’s storied history will be written in Saturday’s 139thPreakness. For the first time in its history, the race will include the trifecta of a filly, a female trainer and a female jockey competing for the blanket of black-eyed susans.

            While unique to the Preakness, the distaff triple is not new to the Triple Crown. In 1984, Patti Cooksey rode So Vague to an 11thplace finish, one spot ahead of Biloxi Indian, trained by Diane Carpenter. Lukas-trained fillies Life’s Magic and Althea ran eighth and 19th, respectively.

            In 1996, Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone rode South Salem, who was eased; Cynthia Reese saddled ninth-place finisher In Contention, and filly My Flag was third.

            On Saturday, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia is aiming to become only the sixth filly to win the Preakness and the first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. The other four came in a 22-year span between 1903 and 1924.

            Linda Rice, who has been training horses since 1987, making her Preakness debut with Kid Cruz. She is the 15thwoman to saddle a horse in the race, and first since Kathy Ritvo with Mucho Macho Man in 2011.

            “It’s kind of cool,” Rice said. “I’m going to be rooting for Kid Cruz, but it is kind of cool. It’s great.”

            Jockey Rosie Naparavnik, who will be aboard Bayern, was third with Mylute in 2013, the best finish ever by a female rider. It was the first time a woman had gotten a leg up in the Preakness since Andrea Seefeldt Knight was the second in 1994.

            Seefeldt, 51, hung up her tack 20 years ago but has made Maryland her home since she was 8 years old. She will be at Pimlico on Friday to take part in the Lady Legends for the Cure V, presented by Wells Fargo, the final edition of the landmark pari-mutuel race featuring eight retired female riders.

            In 2012, Napravnik became the first female to ever win the filly version of the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Earlier this month, she did it again.

            “When she won the Oaks, I cried,” Seefeldt said. “I was so happy for her. She deserves it. She’s probably the best rider out there. It’s good that she’s given the opportunity and she can ride the horses and prove that she’s as good or better, probably better, than the guys.”

            Cooksey owns the fourth-most career wins among female riders with 2,137, trailing Hall of Famer Julie Krone, Rosemary Homeister and Tammi Piermarini, who didn’t pass her for third until July 2012. Cooksey retired in 2004.

            “It makes me jealous!” Cooksey said of Napravnik, “and proud. I’m very proud of her, and I’ve told her that. She’s at the pinnacle of her career and of racing. She’s at the top, moreso than Julie and any of us. It’s kind of about time that one of the ladies broke the glass ceiling and set the bar for the women behind her.

            “The old saying, ‘We’ve come a long way, baby’ is certainly right at the top. It’s always been a male-dominated sport. We’re starting to break through and the women are serious about not only being jockeys, but also trainers and owners. We want to be part of the fun, too, so move over boys. Here we come.”         

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