10 Fastest Record Times In Preakness Stakes History

When it comes to horse racing, few events can compare in prestige to the Preakness Stakes. On Armed Forces Day at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, the Preakness Stakes is run for the best thoroughbreds in the United States.

Only a limited number of horses are allowed to compete; therefore, those who do are the best. Over the years since the first Kentucky Derby in 1873, several of the world’s fastest horses have competed and won the race.

These are the ten fastest horses in the world, and their times are all included here.

10. Spectacular Bid

Record Time: 1:54.20
Year Won: 1979
Jockey: Ron Franklin
 Owner/Trainer: Hawksworth Farm; Bud Delp

Spectacular Bid photo source: Wikipedia

Spectacular Bid was the favorite to win the Triple Crown in 1979 after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He was the grandson of the legendary Bold Ruler, the Secretariat’s sire.

Spectacular Bid was a champion every year he competed and was the greatest at age 4 when he won the last walkover in a big stakes race in American racing history. However, a pre-race foot issue forced the horse to finish third in the Belmont Stakes.

The cause of his unexpected defeat in the 1979 Belmont Stakes (USA-G1) is still a topic of debate, but his overall greatness made up for his inability to win the Triple Crown.

Did You Know:

Blood-Horse magazine ranks Spectacular Bid tenth among the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred winners of the 20th century.

9. Hansel

Record Time: 1:54.00
Year Won: 1991
Jockey: Jerry Bailey
 Owner/Trainer: Lazy Lane Farm, Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Frank L. Brothers

Hanselphoto source: Daily Racing Form

Hansel is another horse on this list with ties to the legendary Native Dancer. Hansel won the Preakness by seven lengths in 1:54.05 over the 1 3/16-mile distance, which remains one of the top 10 fastest times in the race’s history.

Hansel ran third in the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth and finished his career with a game second behind Corporate Report in the Travers Stakes (G1) before a tendon injury forced him to retire.

He concluded his racing career with more than $2.9 million in earnings, was sold to Gainsborough Farm in Kentucky and stood there at Questroyal Farm in New York before being transferred to Japanese investors for stud service.

He was euthanized in 2017 due to old age; he was 29.

Did You Know:

Hansel only wore three shoes when he won the Belmont Stakes, as he had lost his right front shoe at some point during the race.

8. Canonero II

Record Time: 1:54.00
Year Won: 1971
Jockey: Gustavo Avila
 Owner/Trainer: Pedro Batista, King Ranch;    Juan Arias, Buddy Hirsch

Canonero IIphoto source: ILoveHorses.net

Due to a twisted foreleg, Canonero II was sold to Venezuelan breeders for only $1,200 when he was a yearling. As a 2-year-old eligible for the Kentucky Derby, he was returned to the United States in 1971. Elites in the race thought him “unworthy,” believing he had no place in the competition. Afterward, he won the race by four lengths.

He would break a record two weeks later by winning the 1971 Preakness. A hock ailment prevented him from winning the Triple Crown, but he placed fourth in the Belmont Stakes.

Did You Know:

Canonero II was titled “Cañonero” in Venezuela but was renamed “II” after going to the U.S. to run at Del Mar as a juvenile because The Jockey Club had already entered a horse named Canonero.

7. Rombauer

Record Time: 1:53.60
Year Won: 2021
Jockey: Flavien Prat
 Owner/Trainer: Diane & John Fradkin; Michael W. McCarthy

Rombauerphoto source: Sports Illustrated

The 2021 Preakness was won by Rombauer, who finished in 1:53.60, the same time as Summer Squall and Gate Dancer.

His owners, Diane and John Fradkin, made a calculated decision not to enter him in the Kentucky Derby. However, following his triumph in the 2021 El Camino Real Derby (USA-L), Rombauer went up to the top ranks of the 3-year-old division with a resounding victory in the Preakness Stakes (USA-G1). It was his only significant score.

After finishing third in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (USA-G1), he had swelling in his ankles. A recurrence of the inflammation and a misstep during training for a comeback as a 4-year-old terminated his racing career.

Did You Know:

Rombauer was named after Koerner and Joan Rombauer’s Napa Valley vineyard, Rombauer Vineyards. The winery is renowned for its exceptional Chardonnay.

6. Summer Squall

Record Time: 1:53.60
Year Won: 1990
Jockey: Pat Day
 Owner/Trainer: Dogwood Stable; Neil J. Howard

Summer Squallphoto source: Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum

Summer Squall was regarded as the second-best American colt of his generation at ages 2 and 3. He was a skilled and steady racer who may have accomplished much more had he not been prone to spells of respiratory hemorrhage.

Summer Squall won all five 2-year-old races, including the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. Before winning the Preakness, he had finished second to Unbridled in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). However, he defeated Unbridled in the Preakness by 2 1/4 lengths.

In 2004, Lanes End decided to pension him owing to reproductive issues, but they could not let him go. So summer, Squall stayed at Lanes End until 22 September 2009, at the age of twenty-two, when he was euthanized due to age-related health issues.

Did You Know:

Like his half-brother A.P. Indy, Summer Squall had only one functional testicle. The other individual failed to reach his scrotum.

5. Gate Dancer

Record Time: 1:53.60
Year Won: 1984
Jockey: Angel Cordero Jr.
 Owner/Trainer: Kenneth Opstein; Jack Van Berg

Gate Dancerphoto source: America’s Best Racing

Gate Dancer, a grandson of Northern Dancer, descends from the legendary Native Dancer. He was most recognized for winning the Preakness in 1984 with a time of 1:53.60, besting the competition.

Gate Dancer ran while wearing a unique hood, blinkers, and earmuffs, the latter owing to the necessity to restrict the restless colt’s hearing from crowd noise. Extremely competitive, he was disqualified from second to third in the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Classic (USA-G1) and from fourth to fifth in the 1984 Kentucky Derby for lugging in during the stretch drive (USA-G1).

Gate Dancer was also prone to laziness if he took the lead too early, although he had an exceptional finishing kick. The only other victory in his career was the 1984 Super Derby.

Did You Know:

As of 2022, Gate Dancer is the only horse to have been disqualified from a Breeders’ Cup Classic win or placing (USA-G1).

4. Curlin

Record Time: 1:53.50
Year Won: 2007
Jockey: Robby Albarado
 Owner/Trainer: Stonestreet Stables, Midnight Cry Stables; Helen Pitts, Steve Asmussen

Curlinphoto source: Racing Post

Officially unraced as a 2-year-old, Curlin made up for a missed time as a 3-year-old and was named American Horse of the Year after dominating the Breeders’ Cup Classic (USA-G1). Then, at age 4, he accomplished his major spring target by winning the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) and three other Grade 1 races in North America.

In 2007 he won the Preakness and later placed third in the Kentucky Derby. He ultimately finished second in the Belmont Stakes.

From 2008 through 2016, he amassed over $10.5 million in earnings, making him the highest-earning racehorse in North America during that time frame. He is also a two-time Horse of the Year.

Did You Know:

According to National Archives archives, Curlin is named after Charles Curlin, a former enslaved person who enrolled in the U.S. Army’s Colored Troops at Bowling Green in 1864 and served in the Thirteenth Heavy Artillery during the American Civil War.

3. Tank’s Prospect

Record Time: 1:53.40
Year Won: 1985
Jockey: Pat Day
 Owner/Trainer: Eugene V. Klein; D. Wayne Lukas

Tank's Prospectphoto source: The Racing Biz

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas acquired Tank’s Prospect for his customer, Eugene Klein, for $625,000. Edward A. Seltzer bred him.

The racing career of Tank’s Prospect, another great-grandson of Native Dancer, came nowhere like that of his legendary ancestor. He placed sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

Tank’s Prospect won his maiden appearance at the age of two, a six-furlong event at Santa Anita Park in California. Although he did not win a major race that year, he placed second in the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, behind the winner Chief’s Crown and ahead of Spend A Buck. T

Tank’s Prospect, at the age of three in 1985, won the El Camino Real Derby and the Arkansas Derby before finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

He won the 1985 Preakness by a head, with a clocking of 1:53.40 seconds, just 0.4 milliseconds behind Secretariat. Unfortunately, he was forced to retire from racing after a breakdown in the Belmont.

Did You Know:

Tank’s Prospect was given that moniker by Eugene Klein in honor of Paul “Tank” Younger, who worked as an executive with the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (which Klein also owned).

2. Swiss Skydiver

Record Time: 1:53.30
Year Won: 2020
Jockey: Robby Albarado
 Owner/Trainer: Peter J. Callahan; Kenneth G. McPeek

Swiss Skydiverphoto source: BloodHorse

Unbelievably, the second-fastest horse to ever win the modern Preakness was a filly, not a stallion. Swiss Skydiver became the sixth filly to win the Preakness, and her timing of 1:53.30 was just 0.3 milliseconds behind Secretariat’s.

Swiss Skydiver achieved the pinnacle of her profession when she defeated Kentucky Derby victor Authentic, the eventual American Horse of the Year, by a neck (USA-G1). A winner of four other graded races against her own gender in 2020, including the famous Alabama Stakes (USA-G1), she was the clear pick for American champion 3-year-old filly.

She was again a Grade 1 winner at age four but made just four appearances before being shipped to Japan for broodmare service.

Did You Know:

Swiss Skydiver was given her name in honor of her owner’s granddaughter, Callie Rasnake, who traveled to Switzerland in November 2018 to participate in a skydiving experience.

1. Secretariat

Record Time: 1:53.00
Year Won: 1973
Jockey: Ron Turcotte
 Owner/Trainer: Christopher Chenery, Penny Chenery; Lucien Laurin

Secretariatphoto source: VisitLex

In addition to being one of the most well-known horses in history, Secretariat holds the record for the fastest time ever run at the Preakness Stakes, with a time of 1:53.00. Secretariat also won the Kentucky Derby in a record-setting time of 1:59.4 seconds, making him the quickest horse in the race’s history.

He was ridden by Ron Turcotte, who also owned him, and Lucien Laurin trained him.

Due to the rich chestnut color of his coat, he was given the nickname “Big Red.”  Pretty quickly, he became famous and was awarded several honors. He was also featured in many newspapers, magazines, and on T.V. He died in 1989.

Did You Know:

Walt Disney Pictures created a movie in 2010 based on the story of the racehorse Secretariat and the woman who owned him, Penny Chenery.

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