Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SirBarton-Johnny_Loftus-1919Preakness.jpg
Did you realize that The Preakness Stakes is also know as the The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans? Wikipedia reports, "The Preakness Stakes is an American Grade I stakes race 1-3/16 mile (1.91 km) thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old horses, held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kg); fillies 121 lb (55 kg). The Preakness Stakes has been termed "The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans" because a blanket of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), the state flower of Maryland, is traditionally placed around the winner's neck."
If you've been reading my blog over the years, you know that I used to work at several racetracks and have had many experiences in a variety of roles there (some better than others). I used to even be able to understand the racing form and choose the winning horses, although now, I am not so sure, it's been years since I've bet money on a race. Do you have your Preakness picks yet? Are you planning to attend and bet on the race or just hope for a particular horse from the comfort of home? With the Internet, you can hedge your wagers online and get pretty good Preakness Stakes Odds, watch from the comfort of your couch, and even use your own bathroom! That said, there is nothing better than watching a race in person and hearing those pounding hooves, meeting the owners and jockeys, and having fun (on the back stretch that is--I never went unless I was on the backside where ALL the action happens).
So what happens behind the scenes? It really differs from barn to barn for sure. One thing I'd like to encourage is that all of you race horse owners, jockeys, and even just fans, consider a few factors when being involved in this high-level sport such as:
-proper nutrition (you are what you eat and so is your horse--pay more and feed better)
-emotional health (what is your horse's horsenality--are you addressing it?)
-clean environment (keep their environment clean at all times, stall, paddock, trailer, etc.)
-appropriate tack (no need for harsh implements with your horse)
-appropriate development and preparation (take the time it takes)
-and so much more!
I mentioned this in my Kentucky Derby post but believe it is important to talk about again. I want to bring to light a study I recently read about the physicality of the horse (all breeds). It has been said for years that horses develop different based on breed but, this article, Timing and Rate of Skeletal Maturation in Horses truly questions that theory. Consider reading this article and then consider what you are asking from your horse. I can say that once I read it, I felt even more secure in the fact that I waited to start my horses until they were a bit older (actually, until this past year, they did not appear to be physically like an adult horse to the naked eye let alone to the radiograph).
On that note, if you plan on betting, I hope the Preakness Stakes Results are to your liking. Play safe, be savvy, and may the horse be with you!