Tomorrow, some of the country's finest thoroughbreds will compete for the second jewel in the Triple Crown at the 139th Preakness Stakes. Here's what you need to know to be a Preakness expert by post time:
The Race Course
The Preakness is held in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Pimlico Race Course. It is the second oldest racetrack in the country (Saratoga is the first), opening October 25th, 1870. The infield is known as "Old Hilltop", the incline offers a great view of the race track.
Pimlico even survived the anti-gambling movement of the early 1900s. While horse racing was banned throughout most of the nation, Maryland (and Kentucky) escaped the restriction.
The official flower of the Preakness is the Black-Eyed Susan. It became the state flower in 1918, matching the yellow and black colors that represent the state. It has thirteen petals, matching the thirteen original colonies.
The winning horse receives an oversize floral blanket. The first blanket was made in 1940, and worn by Colonel Edward R. Bradley's horse, Bimelech.
The blanket takes two days to complete. Three women work on it full time before the race. It is made of 80 bunches of flowers, each carefully placed into a spongy rubber matte that holds them together. It is 18 inches by 90 inches when finished
The blanket is actually not made of black-eyed susans at all. It is made of Viking daisies, which have their centers painted black so they can stand in for black-eyed susans. While black-eyed susans are the official flower of Maryland, they don't bloom until June in Maryland. What is more, they are actually a wild flower. Instead, the three women behind the blanket will paint around 2,000 daisy centers to look like the state flower.
Named after the state flower, it's called the Black-Eyed Susan cocktail. They are sold by vendors all around Preakness, complete with a commemorative glass.
1/2 oz Finlandia Vodka
1/2 oz St Germain
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Lime Juice (if you can find it)
3/4 oz Orange Juice
Garnish with fresh orange slice
The favorite in tomorrow's race is California Chrome, who won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. There were reports this week that he has a blister in his throat which is causing a slight cough, but his trainer says "it's not a big deal at all." He is being monitored closely to be sure he doesn't catch a cold before the race. If California Chrome wins this round, he will be one step closer to taking the Triple Crown. Only eleven horses have won the complete crown, the last was Affirmed in 1978.
Here is a complete list of competitors, along with their jockeys, post positions, and current betting odds:
If you're watching at home, tune in to NBC at 4:30 p.m. ET to see the race.