Winning the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, is a career-defining moment for any Thoroughbred racehorse. However, a handful of previous Preakness winners have separated themselves from the pack with record-breaking performances. Below we will look at the four horses that provided the biggest margin of victory in the Preakness Stakes.
Smarty Jones, 11 ½ Lengths (2004)–Smarty Jones entered the 2004 Preakness Stakes as already one of the most popular racehorses of the last 25 years in the United States. When winning the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier, Smarty Jones became the first undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby since Seattle Slew in 1977. In the Preakness Stakes, Smarty Jones easily put away his rivals when entering the stretch and then continued to extend his lead all the way to the wire to win by a whopping 11 1/2-lengths. Smarty Jones’ eight-race winning streak and his quest for racing immortality finally ended three-weeks later when he finished a gallant second to Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes.
With the exception of Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes win by a mind-blowing 31 lengths, this may be the most dominant performance in a Triple Crown race by any horse.
Survivor, 10 Lengths (1873)–Survivor’s romp came in the first-ever Preakness Stakes, which was held during the first spring race meeting of Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. The inaugural Preakness Stakes featured a field of seven and was contested at 1 1/2-miles, farther than the race’s current distance of 1 3/16-miles. The son of Vandal was bred by John M. Clay, owned by John F. Chamberlin and trained by R. Wyndham Walden.
Funny Cide, 9 ¾ (2003)–Funny Cide was also coming off a record-setting Kentucky Derby victory when he entered the 2003 Preakness Stakes. Funny Cide’s mild upset at Churchill Downs made him the first New York-bred to ever win the Kentucky Derby and also made him the first gelding to win the race since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929. Funny Cide’s humble beginnings and colorful owners made him an instant star following the Kentucky Derby, but things really got going once Funny Cide crushed his Preakness foes by 9 3/4-lengths, which at the time was the second-largest margin of victory ever in the Preakness Stakes.
Unfortunately, the wears of the Triple Crown caught up with Funny Cide in the Belmont Stakes. He was in the race early, but two “fresh” horses that skipped the Preakness Stakes—Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted—had more in reserve late and easily spurted clear of Funny Cide, who would wind up third.
Count Fleet, 8 Lengths (1943)–Count Fleet was the sport’s sixth Triple Crown winner and is generally considered to be among the top racehorses of all time. After earning champion 2-year-old honors in 1942, Count Fleet would continue to roll the following year with wins in the Wood Memorial and Kentucky Derby prior to his eight-length demolition in the Preakness Stakes. Count Fleet would retire with 16 wins from 21 starts and earnings of just over a quarter-million dollars.