35 Fastest Horses to Win the Preakness Since 1925
The Preakness Stakes has been held annually since 1873, with the exception of three years from 1891-1893. Started two years before the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness is the second leg in American thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown series. That means it’s typically run two weeks after the Kentucky Derby (the third Sunday in May) and three weeks before the third-leg Belmont Stakes race.
The length of the Preakness Stakes has changed over the years. It started out at a mile and a half, then was changed to a mile and 1/16. It has also been run at a mile flat and a mile and 70 yards. Finally, in 1925, the Preakness length was permanently set at a mile and 3/16.
Due to the varying lengths, it’s hard to compare all the winners against one another since 1873. On this list, we highlight the 35 fastest winners of the modern Preakness, from 1925 to 2021.
34. Funny Cide (Tie)
Year won: 2003
Jockey name: Jose Santos
* All times listed are reported from Twinspires.
Why Funny Cide Is One of the Fastest
Foaled at McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbred Farm in New York, Funny Cide was originally an underdog. He was gelded early, and a former steeplechase jockey named Barclay Tagg purchased him for $75,000 in 2002.
He was no stranger to the racing scene and rode Funny Cide to victory at the 2003 Kentucky Derby.
Between 2002 and 2007, Funny Cide won nine major races and several awards, including the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Award as the New York-bred horse of the decade.
34. Smarty Jones (Tie)
Year won: 2004
Jockey name: Stewart Elliot
Why Smarty Jones Is One of the Fastest
Named after Milly "Smarty Jones" McNair, the mother of co-owner Pat Chapman, Smarty Jones won both the 2004 Preakness Stakes and the 2004 Kentucky Derby. Smarty Jones is a descendent of Mr. Prospector, who also sired Funny Cide, Afleet Alex and several other recent Triple Crown competitors.
Smarty Jones almost didn't make it to the race track due to his trainer's personal drama. To be more specific, his original trainer, Bobby Camac, was murdered by his stepson, who was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Smarty Jones was trained by John Servis instead. The horse suffered a major head injury in a freak accident from which veterinarians doubted he would recover. Miraculously, he did.
He overcame his injuries in just a couple of months and made his racing debut in 2003. He went on to win eight races and earn a total of $2,613,155, not including a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn Park.
33. Lookin At Lucky
Year won: 2010
Jockey name: Martin Garcia
Why Lookin At Lucky Is One of the Fastest
Pictured winning the 135th Preakness horse race in 2010 with jockey Martin Garcia, Lookin At Lucky was a star from the start. He was foaled in 2007, with a distant relation to Canadian Triple Crown Winner Dance Smartly.
Looking At Lucky won the title of 2009 Champion Two-Year-Old and 2010 Champion Three-Year-Old, making him the first horse to win both awards in 32 years.
Despite a bad stumble during the backstretch, he won by a head in his three-year-old debut in the Rebel Stakes. He made an even more miraculous save after tripping and almost crashing into the fence at the Santa Anita Derby, still finishing third.
After his illustrious racing career, he went on to sire several future champion horses, including Accelerate, the 2018 Horse of the Year, and Country Horse, the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
29. Kauai King (Tie)
Year won: 1966
Jockey name: Don Brumfield
Why Kauai King Is One of the Fastest
Foaled in 1963, Kauai King is one of just two Maryland-born horses to have won the Kentucky Derby. Since the first, Dancer's Image, was eventually stripped of his title, Kauai King is essentially the only horse from Maryland to carry the title to this day.
Kauai King came from a long line of winning racehorses. His sire and grandsire both won the Preakness Stakes before him, leading to his record-breaking purchase price of $2,520,000.
He won five major races in 1966, including the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but his career came to an abrupt end when he pulled a ligament during the Arlington Classic.
29. Aloma's Ruler (Tie)
Year won: 1982
Jockey name: Jack Kaenel
Why Aloma's Ruler Is One of the Fastest
Aloma's Ruler, an American thoroughbred foaled in 1979, was purchased in 1981 in Baltimore for $92,000 by a businessman who was tipped off by trainer John Lenzini Jr. that the young horse had an abundance of promise. He first began racing at age two, winning one stakes race in his first season.
At age three, he won the Bahamas Stakes, then the Withers Stakes with a new jockey, 16-year-old Jack Kaenel. In a shocking turn of events, he defeated Linkage, the predicted winner, at the Preakness Stakes.
He continued racing until an ankle injury ended his career, earning a total of $498,883 before his retirement.
29. Deputed Testamony (Tie)
Year won: 1983
Jockey name: Donnie Miller Jr.
Why Deputed Testamony Is One of the Fastest
Deputed Testamony was bred and raised at Bonita Farm in Maryland. He's one of just 11 colts from the state to win a Triple Crown race, and was the last living thoroughbred to win a Triple Crown in the 1980s.
His trainer, J. William Boniface, insisted that he never raced on any kind of performance-enhancing medication. Nothing but hay, oats and water. This sparked controversy among other Preakness horse trainers who frequently used a medication called Lasix to help prevent exercise-induced heart problems.
At the time, the medication was banned in Maryland, so Deputed Testamony couldn't have used it even if his trainer had wanted to. Even without it, he won the Preakness Stakes with an impressive time of 1:55.4.
29. Point Given (Tie)
Year won: 2001
Jockey name: Gary Stevens
Why Point Given Is One of the Fastest
Pictured crossing the finish line of the 126th running of the Preakness, Point Given was a powerhouse around the turn of the century. Bred in Kentucky and owned by a prince, he was produced by two award-winning horses in their own right. His sire, Thunder Gulch, won the Classic twice, and his mother was named the 2001 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year.
Point Given, a chestnut-colored thoroughbred, was nicknamed T-Rex by his trainer due to his mischievous nature. Even with his occasional bad attitude, he was a stellar racehorse.
Upon winning the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes and Haskell Invitational, he became the first horse to ever win four $1 million races back to back. He was also voted 2001 American Horse of the Year and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2010.
27. Damascus (Tie)
Year won: 1967
Jockey name: Bill Shoemaker
Why Damascus Is One of the Fastest
The third horse from the front in the image above is none other than Damascus, a high-strung American thoroughbred racehorse who won the title of 1967 Horse of the Year. That year, he won not only the Preakness Stakes, but also the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, Woodward Stakes and Dryer Stakes, plus third place at the Kentucky Derby.
In all his 32 races, he won 21 times and placed seven times, with earnings totaling over a million dollars. Damascus was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974.
He went on to sire 71 different stakes winners and lived to the ripe old age of 31.
27. Charismatic (Tie)
Year won: 1999
Jockey name: Chris Antley
Why Charismatic Is One of the Fastest
Charismatic was one of the fastest, shall we say. An American thoroughbred known for winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing in 1999, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Charismatic had a promising racing career ahead of him.
Unfortunately, in the same year, he had a tragic mishap at the Belmont Stakes. He fell back suddenly, and his jockey Chris Antley realized the horse's foreleg was broken.
After dismounting, he held the horse's fractured limb in his arms to prevent any further damage. The sad moment went down as the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Moment of the Year. Charismatic's racing days were over, but he still claimed the 1999 Horse of the Year title.
26. Rachel Alexandra
Year won: 2009
Jockey name: Calvin Borel
Why Rachel Alexandra Is One of the Fastest
Rachel Alexandra was bred and originally owned by Dolphus Morrison. He named the thoroughbred after his granddaughter, and she showed promise from the start. In 2009, she became the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes in 85 years, and broke multiple stakes and rack records.
After her win at the Kentucky Oaks in 2009, she was purchased by Stonestreet Stables and Harold T. McCormick, with investments from the billionaire owner of Kendall Jackson Winery. Reportedly, the sale was over $10 million.
Considering she was the 2009 Horse of the Year, we'd wager the purchase was worth it.
24. Afleet Alex (Tie)
Year won: 2005
Jockey name: Jeremy Rose
Why Afleet Alex Is One of the Fastest
Afleet Alex, with a time of 1:55, finished in the same time as Elocutionist ran 29 years before. After coming in third in the Kentucky Derby, Afleet Alex won both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
During the Preakness, he stumbled spectacularly at the top of the stretch, but recovered and went on to win. He is related to Native Dancer (one of the most famous Triple Crown winners), being a great-great grandson of both Northern Dancer and Raise a Native.
24. Elocutionist (Tie)
Year won: 1976
Jockey name: John Lively
Why Elocutionist Is One of the Fastest
Elocutionist is best known for his 1967 winning of the Preakness with a time of 1:55, after coming in third in the Kentucky Derby.
A week later, however, he would be injured and forced to retire from racing. He had won nine of his 12 racing starts.
23. Big Brown
Year won: 2008
Jockey name: Kent Desormeaux
Why Big Brown Is One of the Fastest
After winning several races, including the Florida Derby, Big Brown won the 2008 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but he was unable to finish the Belmont Stakes. While the reason was never known for sure, it could have been a dislodged hind shoe that caused him to pull up.
He was the first Triple Crown hopeful to not finish the third race once started. He was the great-grandson of Northern Dancer on both his dam’s and sire’s side.
21. California Chrome (Tie)
Year won: 2014
Jockey name: Victor Espinoza
Why California Chrome Is One of the Fastest
California Chrome quickly became a favorite to win an elusive Triple Crown, but it was not to be. He won the 2014 Kentucky Derby and followed by winning the Preakness with a time of 1:54.80. In the Belmont, however, he was stepped on by another horse, which tore tissue. He finished fourth.
He has many other big wins under his girth, though, including the Dubai World Cup and the Santa Anita Derby. He is a great-great grandson of Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Northern Dancer (the first two of which appear later on this list).
21. Silver Charm (Tie)
Year won: 1997
Jockey name: Gary Stevens
Why Silver Charm Is One of the Fastest
A Florida-bred colt, Silver Charm won the 1997 Preakness at a time of 1:54.80, after winning the Kentucky Derby before that. He was Bob Baffert’s second horse in the Kentucky Derby.
He placed second in the Belmont Stakes, losing by just three-quarters of a length. He also won the 1998 Dubai World Cup.
16. Bernadini (Tie)
Year won: 2006
Jockey name: Tom Albertrani
Why Bernadini Is One of the Fastest
Bernadini is one of five horses on this list to win with a time of 1:54.60. He also happens to be one of the more unusual winners of the Preakness because he did not run in the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont Stakes that year.
A grandson of Seattle Slew and great-grandson of both Spectacular Bid (more on him later) and Secretariat, Bernadini had the pedigree to be one of the greats, but it seemed not to be. A lung infection kept him from racing at the beginning of his career. And his 2006 win of the Preakness was overshadowed by the tragic fall of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro during the race.
16. Real Quiet (Tie)
Year won: 1998
Jockey name: Kent Desormeaux
Why Real Quiet Is One of the Fastest
The famed Bob Baffert trained Real Quiet, who in 1998 tried his best to claim Triple Crown glory. He won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but came in second in the Belmont Stakes by just a nose.
He also goes back to the famed Native Dancer. His son, Midnight Lute, was also trained by Baffert, and was voted 2007 Champion Sprinter.
16. Pleasant Colony (Tie)
Year won: 1981
Jockey name: Jorge Velasquez
Why Pleasant Colony Is One of the Fastest
Pleasant Colony had a rather unremarkable racing career, other than winning the 1981 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He would place third in the Belmont Stakes.
He had just six wins of 14 starts his whole career. A Virginia-bred racehorse, he lived to be 25 years old.
16. Little Current (Tie)
Year won: 1974
Jockey name: Miguel Rivera
Why Little Current Is One of the Fastest
After placing fifth in a huge field of 23 horses for the Kentucky Derby, Little Current went on to win the 1974 Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. A come-from-behind horse, he flew by the field in the homestretch, winning by seven lengths.
He, too, is a great-grandson of Native Dancer. He lived to be 32 years old.
16. Nashua (Tie)
Year won: 1955
Jockey name: Eddie Arcaro
Why Nashua Is One of the Fastest
While Nashua won the 1955 Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the race he is best known for is the Match Race against Swaps, the horse who bested him in the Kentucky Derby.
Nashua vindicated himself, though, by beating Swaps in the famed match.
13. Timber Country (Tie)
Year won: 1995
Jockey name: Pat Day
Why Timber Country Is One of the Fastest
Timber Country had not won a single race in 1995, including the Kentucky Derby where he came in third. Yet, coming into the homestretch of the 1995 Preakness, he was able to pull off a win by half a length with a time that tied with racing greats Affirmed and Seattle Slew.
He was unable to race in the Belmont Stakes due to a virus. No surprise, he also goes back to Native Dancer as well as the great War Admiral.
13. Affirmed (Tie)
Year won: 1978
Jockey name: Steve Cauthen
Why Affirmed Is One of the Fastest
Affirmed won the rare Triple Crown victory in 1978, clocking in a time of 1:54.40 at the 1978 Preakness.
Affirmed lived to be 26 years old and, yes, was also a great-grandson of Native Dancer.
13. Seattle Slew (Tie)
Year won: 1977
Jockey name: Jean Cruguet
Why Seattle Slew Is One of the Fastest
Seattle Slew, great-grandson of Bold Ruler who sired Secretariat, really needs no introduction. He won the 1977 Preakness at a fast time of 1:54.40 before going on to become a Triple Crown Winner.
He was the only horse in history to win the Triple Crown as an undefeated racer, until Justify repeated the feat in 2018. He was the 1977 Horse of the Year.
12. War of Will
Year won: 2019
Jockey name: Tyler Gaffalione
Why War of Will Is One of the Fastest
After being trapped on the rail and an accident where he was knocked sideways during the Kentucky Derby, War of Will rebounded to win the 2019 Preakness by 1.25 lengths and a time of 1:54.30, just one millisecond faster than the famed Seattle Slew.
He is another relative of Native Dancer (being a great-grandson of Northern Dancer) to make it on this list.
10. Codex (Tie)
Year won: 1980
Jockey name: Angel Cordero Jr.
Why Codex Is One of the Fastest
After being accidently entered into the 1980 Preakness by the son of his owner, Codex beat that year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Genuine Risk, by 4.5 lengths. His time of 1:54.20 was tied with Spectacular Bid’s from the year before.
In 1984, at just 4 years old, he was found paralyzed in his stall and had to be euthanized.
10. Spectacular Bid (Tie)
Year won: 1979
Jockey name: Ron Franklin
Why Spectacular Bid Is One of the Fastest
After winning the 1979 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Spectacular Bid was the favorite to win the Triple Crown. However, a hoof injury prior to the race caused the great to come in third in the Belmont Stakes.
He was a grandson of the great Bold Ruler, who was the sire of Secretariat.
8. Hansel (Tie)
Year won: 1991
Jockey name: Jerry Bailey
Why Hansel Is One of the Fastest
Hansel is yet another racehorse on this list that is related to the great Native Dancer, who appears twice in his pedigree.
He won the 1991 Preakness by seven lengths and the Belmont Stakes by a head, after placing 10th in the Kentucky Derby. He lived to be 29 years old.
8 Canonero II (Tie)
Year won: 1971
Jockey name: Gustavo Avila
Why Canonero II Is One of the Fastest
Canonero II was sold for just $1,200 to breeders in Venezuela when he was a yearling due to a crooked foreleg. He was eligible for the Kentucky Derby, so in 1971 as a 2-year-old, he was shipped back to the United States.
He was deemed “unworthy” by racing elites, who felt he had no place at the race. Then, he went on to win the race by four lengths. Two weeks later, he would win the 1971 Preakness, setting a record in the process. A hock injury kept him from Triple Crown glory, but he finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes.
5. Rombauer (Tie)
Year won: 2021
Jockey name: Flavien Prat
Why Rombauer Is One of the Fastest
In 2021, Rombauer won the Preakness by 3.5 lengths with a time as fast as Summer Squall and Gate Dancer: 1:53.60.
He did not run in the Kentucky Derby, which was a strategic move made by his owners, Diane and John Fradkin. Rombauer went on to finish third in the Belmont Stakes.
5. Summer Squall (Tie)
Year won: 1990
Jockey name: Pat Day
Why Summer Squall Is One of the Fastest
In 1990, Summer Squall would win the Preakness with the same time as Gate Dancer six years before him.
Another Northern Dancer grandson, Summer Squall would go on to sire Charismatic, the Kentucky Derby winner.
5. Gate Dancer (Tie)
Year won: 1984
Jockey name: Angel Cordero Jr.
Why Gate Dancer Is One of the Fastest
Gate Dancer was the grandson of Northern Dancer, who goes back to the great Native Dancer as well. He was best known for his 1984 Preakness, where he beat out the field with a fast time of 1:53.60.
His only other career win was the 1984 Super Derby. He is also known for the inaugural 1984 Breeder’s Cup Classic, where he, Slew O’Gold and Wild Again finished at the wire together. Gate Dancer was awarded third place.
Year won: 2007
Jockey name: Robby Albarado
Why Curlin Is One of the Fastest
In 2007, a stallion by the name of Curlin won the Preakness after placing third in the Kentucky Derby. He went on to place second in the Belmont Stakes.
From 2008 until 2016, he accumulated over $10.5 million in winnings, making him the highest earning North American racehorse during that time period. He is a two-time Horse of the Year as well.
3. Tank's Prospect
Year won: 1985
Jockey name: Pat Day
Why Tank's Prospect Is One of the Fastest
Another great-grandson of Native Dancer, Tank’s Prospect’s racing career was nowhere near his famous ancestor. In fact, he finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby.
But with the famous Pat Day aboard, he rebounded and won the 1985 Preakness by just a head, with a time of 1:53.40, just .4 milliseconds behind Secretariat. Unfortunately, he broke down in the Belmont and had to retire from racing.
2. Swiss Skydiver
Year won: 2020
Jockey name: Robby Albarado
Why Swiss Skydiver Is One of the Fastest
Incredibly, the second fastest horse to win the modern Preakness is a filly, not a colt. Not only did Swiss Skydiver become the sixth filly to win the Preakness against a field of colts, her time of 1:53.30 is just .3 milliseconds away from the legendary Secretariat’s.
She definitely deserves a place of honor among the legends.
Year won: 1973
Jockey name: Ron Turcotte
Why Secretariat Is One of the Fastest
Secretariat is a name that even non-racing fans probably know. Owned by Penny Chenery, “Big Red” shattered the Derby record and went on to win the 1973 Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
However, he was not originally given the title of “record-holder” for the Preakness. After comparing three different times, the time of 1:53.40 was given as his time. Yet many were still not satisfied that the time was correct.
For 39 years, the debate would continue. Finally, on June 19, 2012, after very careful footage analysis, the time of 1:53.00 was decided upon, giving Secretariat the record time for the Pimlico Race Course.
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