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History of the Triple Crown series: Fastest Preakness Stakes race times from American thoroughbred horses

Some of the greatest horses that have competed in the Triple Crown series have set record wins at the Preakness Stakes in Maryland.

Since its founding in 1873, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore has undergone several changes but remains mostly the same since 1925 when Pimlico was built with a distance of 1 3/16 of a mile. 

Read below to discover the fastest racehorses in the history of the Preakness Stakes.


  1. Secretariat
  2. Swiss Skydiver
  3. Tank’s Prospect
  4. Louis Quatorze
  5. Curlin

1. Secretariat

Widely considered the greatest racing horse in the history of the sport, Secretariat holds the crown with the fastest record at the Preakness Stakes. Known for his chestnut coat and three white socks, the stallion became the first horse in more than two decades to win the Triple Crown in 1973 and did so by setting record finishes at the biggest events in U.S. horse racing.

Secretariat has the fastest record-time victory at the Preakness Stakes and the Triple Crown winner is considered the best racing horse of all time. (Jerry Cooke / Corbis via Getty Images / File)

In May 1973, Secretariat started the Preakness race off in last but showed the capabilities of his speed with a burst of momentum that quickly placed him in the lead. Secretariat maintained the top spot all the way to the finish line while setting a record-time finish at the Pimlico Race Course at 1:53 on the dot. The performance left spectators shocked and helped skyrocket the fame and reputation of Secretariat.

However, for decades, the official record set by Secretariat remained miscalculated at 1:54 2/5. In 2012, the record was officially corrected after a forensic review of the tapes discovered that the race clocker had failed to properly keep track of the time. During the race, the stallion sprinted across the remaining 3/16 of a mile in exactly 18 4/5, about 2 ½ lengths ahead of his closest rival, Sham.

2. Swiss Skydiver

In recent years, one of the racehorses to come close to the record set by Triple Crown winner Secretariat at the Preakness Stakes was Swiss Skydiver in October 2020. The race was held five months later than its original start date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thus allowing Skydiver to mature for several more months before having to compete.

The female horse took command of the field by defeating Kentucky Derby champion Authentic by the second-best record time in the history of the race at 1:53 28 seconds. Initially, Skydiver maintained her speed during the start of the race between the 24- and 50-second mark, however, she unleashed speed halfway through, sizing the lead at approximately one minute. The mare solidified her position in racehorse history with the performance, nearly overtaking Secretariat’s record. 

3. Tank’s Prospect

The bay-colored stallion Tank’s Prospect set the third-best time at the Preakness Stakes in 1982 when he beat Chief’s Crown by a head at a time of 1:53 2/5. Initially, Tank did perform well at the start of the race, falling to the back of the field for the majority of the time. However, in the last minute, the stallion broke out in a sprint and finished as a winner and set a Preakness record.

Preakness Stakes race track

In 1925, the Pimlico racetrack solidified the length of its field at 1 3/16 of a mile in length. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images / File)

The young horse did not perform well in the first leg of the Triple Crown series, running in seventh at the Kentucky Derby; however, his victory at the Preakness Stakes shifted the tone and gave him momentum going into the Belmont. However, Tank suffered an injury at the start of the race and was unable to finish, thus ending his racing career and prospects. 

4. Louis Quatorze 

Coming in at No. 4 is Louis Quatorze, known for his fast-paced victory in the 1996 Preakness Stakes, where he finished with a time of 1:53.43 seconds. Previously, the young stallion had a disastrous finish weeks prior during the Kentucky Derby, coming in 16th place out of a race of 19 horses. However, his victory at the Preakness helped solidify his racing legacy.


Louis Quatorze broke out a gate 6 with impressive speed and was able to take and maintain a lead early during the race. Moreover, he repelled a challenge from Skip Away at about the 1:09 mark and won by 3 ¼ lengths. At the time, Louis’ record was thought to be comparable to the one set by Secretariat years prior before it was revised in 2012.

5. Curlin

Finishing at No. 5 as one of the top record-holders at the Pimlico racetrack is Curlin. In May 2007, the stallion’s story is another example of a racehorse taking the victory at the Preakness after being behind at the start of the event. From the 20-second to the one-minute mark of the race, Curlin dropped 13 lengths behind first place but was able to rally his speed at defeated Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

Horses racing on a field

Some of the biggest names in horse racing history have made their legacies while competing at the Preakness Stakes. (Getty Images / File)


The time set by Curlin was 1:53.46 seconds. The horse would go on to have a notable career and win two Horse of the Year titles before retiring in 2008 with some of the highest earnings in North America at more than $10 million.

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