Celebrating the history of the Preakness

By Amanda Hughes, Asst. Manager, Central Library Maryland Department

Marylanders love horses. From the thoroughbred farms of Harford, Howard, and Cecil counties, to the wild ponies of Assateague, to the Baltimore Arabbers, horses and Maryland go way back.

So it’s no surprise that one of horse racing’s biggest events calls Baltimore home. The Preakness Stakes, along with the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, are the height of thoroughbred racing. Called the 2nd jewel in the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, or just “the Preakness” to locals, this event has become a touchstone of Baltimore culture. Its popularity has spread beyond the racing world and is celebrated as a day for all things Maryland, and all things Baltimore.

The Pimlico Race track was opened in 1870 by the Maryland Jockey Club, a racing club that was founded in 1743. The first spring race meet was held in May of 1873 and was dubbed the Preakness Stakes by then Governor of Maryland, Oden Bowie in honor of the winning horse at the Dinner Party Stakes held in New Jersey on the day Pimlico opened (October 25, 1870.) Many famous horses have competed at Pimlico Race Course including Man O’War, Secretariat, Barbaro, American Pharaoh, and the famous “Pimlico Special” race between Triple Crown winner War Admiral and Seabiscuit in 1938. The day before Preakness Stakes, Pimlico hosts the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, a race just for fillies, part of a series of races unofficially known as the “Triple Tiara” a counterpart to the three Triple Crown races that also includes the Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn Stakes, held at Belmont Park. This doesn’t mean that fillies aren’t welcome in the main event; in fact more fillies have won the Preakness Stakes than either of the other Triple Crown races. The Maryland Jockey Club continued to sponsor the Preakness well into the 21st century and even published their own magazine, Pimlico Pictorial until the late 1990s.

Also called “The Race for the Black-Eyed Susans” after the blanket of yellow flowers draped over the winner, the Preakness Stakes have long held a prominent place in Baltimore’s culture, especially in high society. Beginning in 1936 a Preakness Ball was held every year for Baltimore’s elite with one young woman being elected Queen of the Ball. According to tradition, men who participated in the Steeplechase and fox hunting wore pink to the ball.

In more modern times, Preakness has become a reason for one and all to celebrate the season. Long before the infamous infield parties of the past decade, Preakness was a reason for Baltimoreans of all ages to celebrate, with weeklong festivities and events for the whole family. Preakness has even inspired several cocktails, the original The Preakness and the more commonly known Black-Eyed Susan. Recipes for both these and other Maryland inspired cocktails can be found in Forgotten Maryland Cocktails. You can read about the history of The Preakness in The Preakness: Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown and the history of Hunt Clubs in The Maryland Hunt Cup: Past and Present. All of these titles are available for use in the Maryland Department.

Maryland’s love of horses and equestrian culture is not limited to thoroughbred racing. The Maryland Hunt Club holds annual Steeplechase events and even a yearly fox hunt! Don’t worry though, these days no foxes are harmed in pursuit of a good time. Most attendees to the yearly hunt events end the day never having seen a fox at all. There are also annual hunting shows held at Pimlico, put on by the Maryland Hunt Club.

For more information of Preakness, Pimlico, and Maryland equestrian culture in general, visit the Maryland Department for access to these and other photographs, publications, books, and ephemera.

To read about the history of racing and horse culture in Maryland at home, check out these titles:

What’s New in Nonfiction

This month, check out new titles from some fresh voices and some that have already made their mark in the Nonfiction genre.

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
By T. Kira Madden

In her raw debut, acclaimed essayist, T.Kira Madden explores coming of age as a queer, biracial teen dealing with cult-like privilege, racial disparities, white-collar crime, and more in Florida.

Read the book

The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick
By Mallory O’Meara

Uncover the life and work of Milicent Patrick–one of Disney’s first female animators and the only woman in history to create one of Hollywood’s classic movie monsters.

Read | Listen

We Speak for Ourselves: A Word from Forgotten Black America
By D. Watkins

The New York Times bestselling author of The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir offers an in-depth analysis of inner-city hurdles and honors the stories therein. Honest and eye-opening, We Speak for Ourselves makes us listen, feel, and create a course toward change that starts right where we are.

Read the Book

After Life: My Journey From Incarceration to Freedom
By Anne Marie Johnson
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Batch Cocktails: Make Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion
By Maggie Hoffman

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How to Love a Country: Poems By Richard Blanco
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LeBron, Inc: The Making Of A Billion-Dollar Athlete
By Brian Windhorst

Read the Book
Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting By Anna Quindlen
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Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow
By Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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The Light Years
By Chris Rush

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Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing
By Robert A. Caro
Read the Book

Like This? Read That!

We’re excited about the new fiction books hitting the Pratt shelves this May. Here’s a list of highly anticipated novels and suggestions if they are already on your “To Read” List.  Enjoy!

Red, White & Royal Blue
By Casey McQuiston

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales? Don’t miss this laugh-out loud funny and sexy romantic tale from Casey McQuiston.

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Like Red, White & Royal Blue? Add these to your reading list.

I Wish You All the Best
By Mason Deaver

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The Kiss Quotient
By Helen Hoang

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The Unhoneymooners
By Christina Lauren

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A Prince on Paper
By Alyssa Cole

The Reluctant Royals series returns with fan favorite character Nya Jerami searching for the life that’s not too big, and not too small, and the bad boy prince who might be just right for her.

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Interested in A Prince on Paper? Check out the previous books in the Reluctant Royals series.

A Princess in Theory
By Alyssa Cole

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A Duke by Default
By Alyssa Cole

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Once Ghosted,
Twice Shy
By Alyssa Cole
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The Flight Portfolio
By Julie Orringer

The long-awaited novel from the best-selling author of The Invisible Bridge takes us back to occupied Europe in this gripping historical novel based on the true story of Varian Fry’s extraordinary attempt to save the work, and the lives, of Jewish artists fleeing the Holocaust.

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Fan of The Flight Portfolio? Check out these novels.

Henry, Himself
By Stewart O’Nan

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The Paris Diversion
By Chris Pavone

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The Guest Book
By Marybeth Whalen

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Books that Mom will Love

To all of the moms, aunts, godmothers, and mother figures out there, wishing you all the happiest Mother’s Day this weekend. In honor of the holiday, we’ve compiled a list of books highlighting the different aspects and perspectives of motherhood. Check them out!

A River of Stars
By Vanessa Hua

Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the married owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. To ensure that his child—his first son—has every advantage, Boss Yeung has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil.

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That Kind of Mother
By Rumaan Alam

Like many first-time mothers, Rebecca finds herself both deeply in love with her newborn son and deeply overwhelmed. Struggling, she reaches out to Priscilla to become her son’s nanny. When Priscilla dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Rebecca steps forward to adopt the baby. But she is unprepared for what it means to be a white mother with a black son. As she soon learns, navigating motherhood for her is a matter of learning how to raise two children whom she loves with equal ferocity, but whom the world is determined to treat differently.

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The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
By Anissa Gray

Althea Butler, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters, Viola and Lillian, have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will.

They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when Althea and her husband are arrested. As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters.

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Make sure to add these books to your reading list!

Baby Teeth
By Zoje Stage
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By Michelle Obama
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Class Mom
By Laurie Gelman
Down Came the Rain
By Brooke Shields
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How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids
By Jancee Dunn
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Mom & Me & Mom
By Maya Angelou
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By Emma Donoghue Download | Listen
The Mothers
By Brit Bennett
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Get your Head in the Game!

Video Games are new to the Enoch Pratt Free Library. With options available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One gaming systems, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Stop by your nearby branch to find out more information.

Whether you are new to gaming or advanced, check out our picks!

Jurassic World: Evolution
PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Kingdom Hearts III
PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Madden NFL 19
PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2
PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Resident Evil 2
PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
The LEGO Movie 2
Switch | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection
PlayStation 4 |
Switch | Xbox One
Paw Patrol on a Roll
PlayStation 4 |
Switch | Xbox One
Nickelodeon Kart Racers
PlayStation 4 |
Switch | Xbox One
Just Dance 2019
PlayStation 4 | Switch | Wii | Xbox One