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Top Trainers of the Preakness Stakes

Top Trainers of the Preakness Stakes: The Preakness Stakes has been through a lot over the years. The race was moved around several racetracks, including Morris Park in the Bronx, New York, Gravesend Race Track in Coney Island, New York, and Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, where it currently resides. It was also not run between the years 1891 and 1893 but resumed in 1894 when three-year-old Assignee won the race, traveling the 1-1/16 miles at Gravesend Race Course. In 1909, the track returned to Pimlico and has resided there ever since.

American Pharoah Preakness Stakes 2015

Five-time Preakness-winning trainer Bob Baffert, pictured above at Churchill Downs with Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah, may win the Preakness Stakes again on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at Pimlico Race Course.
Photo: Mike Cane

The Preakness Stakes has been contested at three different tracks over seven different distances. From 1873 to 1888 and again in 1890, the race was contested at 1½ miles. In 1889, the race was set at 1¼ miles. After three years of no race, it returned in 1894 to be run at 1-1/16 miles and was run at that distance until 1900 and then again in 1908. The race was shortened to 1 mile and 70 yards from 1901 to 1907. In 1909 and 1910, the race was contested at one mile. For the thirteen years between 1911 and 1924, the race was run at a distance of 1-1/8 miles. In 1925, the race was bumped up to 1-3/16 miles and has since remained at that distance.

While the locations and distances were played with, trainers weren’t playing. There are trainers who simply know how to win big races, and the Preakness has some top names in its arsenal of trainers who have won many editions of the Preakness Stakes.

R. Wyndham Walden: This trainer has seven Preakness Stakes wins to his name with five coming in consecutive years, beginning in 1878 and ending in 1882. He also won the race in 1875 and 1888. All of Walden’s Preakness wins came when he asked his horses to travel 1-½ miles. His horses included Tom Ochiltree (1875), Duke of Magenta (1978), Harold (1879), Grendada (1880), Saunterer (1881), Vanguard (1888), and Refund (1888). Walden also owned Refund, whereas his five consecutive winners were owned by George L. Lorillard.

D. Wayne Lukas: Lukas began his training career with quarter horses before jumping head-first into the Thoroughbred world. As one of the most accomplished trainers in history, Lukas has six Preakness wins to his credit. His first came in 1980 with Codex. In 1985, Tank’s Prospect won the Preakness. There would be a nine-year gap before Lukas won the Preakness again in 1994 Preakness with Tabasco Cat and then again in 1995 with Timber Country. He then won the race with Charismatic in 1999 and most recently in 2013 with Oxbow. Interestingly enough, D. Wayne Lukas could technically say he won the 1995 Triple Crown due to Thunder Gulch winning the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes while stablemate Timber Country won the Preakness.

Thomas J. Healey: Healey won the Preakness Stakes five times. The trainer sent out winners in the race in 1901, 1922, 1923, 1926, and 1929. Healey sent out winners in the Preakness Stakes traveling three of the seven different distances. He won the race at 1-1/8 miles, 1-1/16 miles, and 1-3/16 miles. The trainer saddled his first winner in 1888 and eventually became the trainer of Montpelier Stable, owned by Richard T. Wilson Jr., president of Saratoga Race Course.

Bob Baffert: Baffert has won five Preakness Stakes already, and it could be six by the end of the week. His Preakness wins came in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, and 2010. Baffert has also been close to winning the Triple Crown with four out his five Preakness winners. Those include Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Point Given, and War Emblem. This year, Baffert has the favorite in American Pharoah and another top contender in Dortmund. If Baffert were to win a sixth Preakness Stakes, he would be tied with D. Wayne Lukas.

James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons: Sunny Fitzsimmons was the top Triple Crown race winning trainer with thirteen victories until Oxbow bumped D. Wayne Lukas up to fourteen wins in the trio of races. Fitzsimmons won the Preakness four times: in 1930, 1935, 1955, and 1957. In 1930 and 1935, Fitzsimmons was the trainer of Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and Omaha, who were also father and son. In 1955, he won the race with Nashua, and in 1957, he claimed the Preakness with Bold Ruler. Nashua would sire Gold Digger, the dam of Mr. Prospector. Bold Ruler would go on to sire Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner.

Jimmy Jones: Jimmy Jones has won the Preakness four times as well. He trained the Preakness winners of 1947, 1948, 1956, and 1958. All of Jimmy Jones’ Preakness wins came while he was training for the legendary Calumet Farm, and he was the trainer of 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation. Tim Tam also won the Kentucky Derby for Jones in 1958.

Training a Preakness winner is no easy task, but bringing a Kentucky Derby winner into the Preakness is usually the “easy” race for the horse. When and if the Derby winner can complete the Preakness and head to Elmont, New York, he will have a chance to make a name for himself and his trainer. The trainer of the Triple Crown winner is certain to be remembered. The winners of the Preakness Stakes helped boost their trainers’ reputations, but they also boosted their own. Trainers who win are quite often able to boast of having a dual Triple Crown race winner with Derby champion follow-up victories in the Preakness, a supreme achievement in the world of racing.

Preakness Stakes 2015 Post Positions & Odds
Race 13 6:18 pm ET
1 American Pharoah 4-5 Espinoza/Baffert
2 Dortmund 7-2 Garcia/Baffert
3 Mr. Z 20-1 Nakatani/Lukas
4 Danzig Moon 15-1 Leparoux/Casse
5 Tale of Verve 30-1 Rosario/Stewart
6 Bodhisatttva 20-1 McCarthy/Corrales
7 Divining Rod 12-1 Castellano/Delacour
8 Firing Line 4-1 Stevens/Callaghan

Related Links:
Top Five Kentucky Derby Trainers

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Homebred Divining Rod Heads to Baltimore for Preakness Stakes
Defending American Pharoah’s Derby Win
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Tale of Verve Needs Pace in Preakness Stakes
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