Baltimore, MD (May 10, 2016) – Maryland is celebrating its horse heritage this month by highlighting a variety of activities including the 141st running of the famed Preakness Stakes on May 21. Saddle up and grab the reins for an exciting ride amongst Maryland’s oldest traditions.
“Maryland is rich in equine history, from Thoroughbred racing to jousting to steeplechase,” said Liz Fitzsimmons, managing director, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts. “With a wealth of equestrian centers, legendary tracks and a collection of riding trails across the state, horse enthusiasts can enjoy a wide variety of events and activities celebrating the state’s horse heritage.”
The Preakness Stakes is no foal when it comes to horse races, with a bloodline dating back to 1873. As the pivotal middle jewel in the Triple Crown, there is no shortage of excitement, from classic Chesapeake cuisine to the infamous Black-eyed Susan Cocktail. The Woodlawn Vase, awarded to the winner of the Preakness Stakes, is the most expensive trophy in American Sports. Created by Tiffany & Co. in 1860, the original trophy can now be viewed in all its dazzling glory at the Baltimore Museum of Art, with the exception of the day when it travels to Pimlico Race Course for the annual running of the Preakness. Pimlico Race Course, famously known for the race where Seabiscuit beat War Admiral, holds a variety of activities for visitors to participate in year-round.
Get that lucky horseshoe ready! Catch the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on May 20, one of Pimlico’s oldest stakes races that is run by 3-year-old fillies. Don’t miss the Potomac Hunt Races in Poolesville on May 15 or the Fair Hill Races in Elkton on May 28 – both are steeplechase races over timber, a Maryland tradition for more than 100 years.
Immerse yourself in Maryland’s Horse Country along the Horses & Hounds Scenic Byway. Drive through the Maryland countryside, passing many horse farms that have produced famous winning Thoroughbreds. Head to Assateague Island National Seashore, where you can see horses run wild in a natural habitat. Nearby, visit the first Maryland Historic Horse Trail, which features the self-guided “Horses at the Beach” driving tour. Gallop through the woods on horseback at Pocomoke River State Park and Oak Ridge Park, where riding is permitted on maintained forest trails and roads.
Jousting is Maryland’s official state sport and the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association hosts a Jousting Championship each year to honor the sport. Visit Lucky Cricket Farm, where riders learn the art of dressage, a type of riding dating back to ancient Greece and traditions of Renaissance Europe. Explore the Thrasher Carriage Museum to see one of the top collections of horse-drawn vehicles. Trot over to the Belair Mansion and Stable Museum, featuring racing memorabilia and highlights of Belair’s 200-year racing legacy which includes two Triple Crowns and 631 winning racehorses.
Last year, the Maryland Horse Industry Board launched a statewide network of 35 Horse Discovery Centers in 15 counties. These carefully selected and licensed stables welcome people of all ages and experience levels into their barns to learn about horses in a friendly and knowledgeable environment. Kids can become a ‘jockey-in-training’ with horseback riding lessons at one of Maryland’s many stables, including Worthmore Equestrian Center, Rolling Hills Ranch and New World Stables. At Suttler Post Farm, the beautiful Clydesdales hooves will trot to the beat of your heart.
For more information about horses in Maryland, visit www.visitmaryland.org or call 1-800-719-5900.
About Maryland Tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Commerce. Visitors to the state spent $16.4 billion on travel-related expenses in 2014. The Maryland tourism industry also generated $2.2 billion in state and local taxes, and provided Marylanders with 140,288 jobs with a payroll of $5.4 million.