A History Of Fillies In The Preakness Stakes

Written By Darren Cooper on May 20, 2022

The girls are crashing the Preakness Stakes party.

Fifty-five fillies have run in the Preakness Stakes, and Secret Oath will join that sorority Saturday afternoon. The presence of the Kentucky Oaks winner is one of the major Preakness Stakes storylines ahead of its 7:01 p.m. post time.

Fillies compete in an entirely different circuit than their male counterparts. It’s rare for them to cross over and race the boys. Only six have ever won the Preakness. Only three have ever won the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont Stakes.

Fillies that have won the Preakness

1903: Flocarline

It’s been a long time, so not many records of Flocarline exist. We know that she was ridden by jockey William Gannon and ran a mile and 70 yards in 1:44 4/5.

1906: Whimsical

This was one of the Preakness Stakes races that wasn’t run in Maryland. The Maryland Jockey Club suspended operations in 1890 after just two horses ran in the Preakness the year before.

The 1906 Preakness was run at Gravesend in Brooklyn near Coney Island. Whimsical led from start to finish. She ran for another year before breaking down at the Marlboro Handicap at Gravesend in June of 1907.

1915: Rhine Maiden

It was the Year of the Filly in horse racing. Regret won the Kentucky Derby but skipped the Preakness. Rhine Maiden stepped up to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Half Rock and Runes.

The two champions raced one another in the 1917 Gazelle Handicap. Regret won easily, while Rhine Maiden finished out of the money.

1924: Nellie Morse

Nellie Morse was named for her owner, Bud Fisher’s mother. Nellie Morse won the Pimlico Oaks, and her win at the Preakness was her third victory in a nine-day span. She never won another race.

85 years later…

2009: Rachel Alexandra

Rachel Alexandra made her mark at Churchill Downs when she won the Kentucky Oaks by more than 20 lengths. That’s the biggest margin of victory in the race’s history.

In the Preakness, she held off hard-charging Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird down the stretch. She won races in six different states that season, earning 2009’s Horse of the Year.

2020: Swiss Skydiver

The Preakness was shifted to October and contested without fans thanks to COVID-19. Swiss Skydiver and Authentic hooked up at the top of the stretch and battled to the wire.

Swiss Skydiver edged Authentic by a neck and finished with the second-fastest 1 3/16-mile time in Preakness history. Only Secretariat ran the distance faster.

The two female Derby winners

Regret didn’t run in the 1915 Preakness, but two female Kentucky Derby winners did.

Genuine Risk was the talk of the country after winning the Kentucky Derby. She arrived at Pimlico as a favorite. This race is legendary for the wrong reasons, as Codex and jockey Angel Cordero, Jr., herded Genuine Risk as the two turned for home. Genuine Risk settled for second and came back to run second in the Belmont Stakes a few weeks later.

Winning Colors arrived at the Preakness, but was tested early by Forty Niner. These were unexpected tactics, which set things up for Risen Star to win the race. Winning Colors finished sixth in the Belmont behind Risen Star, who did his best impression of sire Secretariat with a win by more than 14 lengths.

Photo by AP Photo / Mel Evans
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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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