Racing History Blog

Survivor: Forgotten star of the first Preakness

Posted May 12, 2021


A crowd of 12,000 was on hand at Pimlico Race Course in 1873 for the first running of one of America’s most iconic races

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director

The Preakness Stakes was first contested in 1873, six years after the inaugural Belmont Stakes, and two years before the maiden running of the Kentucky Derby. It was a time of healing in America. The country was slowly being stitched back together both physically and emotionally during the Reconstruction period in the aftermath of the Civil War. Thoroughbred racing was on the ascent and playing a significant role in the new America. State officials in Maryland — which had a distinguished racing history and traced its Jockey Club’s origins to 1743 — desired a piece of the post-war turf action.

Aristides: The original Kentucky Derby hero

Posted May 12, 2021


In 1875, the “little red horse” won the inaugural edition of America’s most famous horse race

By Brien Bouyea
Hall of Fame and Communications Director 

The name Aristides was derived from the ancient Greek words “Aristos,” which means “best,” and “Eidos,” defined as “type” or “species.” The name was carried by an obscure second-century saint and later more famously by a fifth-century Athenian statesman, “Aristides the Just,” who was lauded for his integrity. On May 17, 1875, a small chestnut racehorse bearing the historic name Aristides proved to be the “best of his type” in a new sporting spectacle that generated tremendous anticipation prior to its debut — the inaugural Kentucky Derby.

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