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Experience Maryland’s History of Horse Racing

Experience Maryland’s History of Horse Racing

There’s nothing that can compare to the thundering sound of galloping horses racing along the dirt track—the tense energy, the flying dust, the quaking ground—and, it’s all been part of Maryland’s history since the mid-1700s. 

Equestrianism is woven into the tapestry that is Maryland. From Preakness, the second race of the triple crown, and jousting, the state’s official sport, to the sport of steeplechasing and the art of fox hunting, no one can deny that horses run deep here. Because of Maryland’s strong horse history, the state tends to attract visitors from all over who have an interest in the sport. Whether you’re a horse enthusiast, history buff, or an avid sightseer, visiting these horse racing attractions and destinations will bring you to a new level of appreciation for Maryland’s history of horse racing.

If you want to discover Maryland’s unique horse history, hit the road and take a tour of Maryland Horse History Trails. They’re a great way to follow along some of the most notable milestones in the state while seeing some beautiful scenery and other attractions along the way. 

The first trail that was established in the state was the Maryland Historic Horse Trail in Worcester County. The trail was created by the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB), a subsection of the Department of Agriculture, and features 11 stops, including Assateague Island National Seashore, Glen Riddle Farm, Ocean Downs Harness Racing, and Holly Ridge Farm. Worcester County is the only county in Maryland where you can truly experience the Atlantic Ocean and has plenty of small coastal towns to explore. Much of the county is rural and has nationally protected land, including Assateague Island and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. After all, you can’t get much more picturesque than horses on the beach!

Ocean Downs Casino
Photo Credit: Ocean Downs Casino

The other notable trail is the Southern Maryland Historic Horse Trail, which is made up of 17 stops, including Bowie Race Track, Belair Stable Museum, Laurel Park, and Marlboro Race Course. This trail begins south of Baltimore, takes you through Washington, D.C., and down along the Chesapeake Bay. With this trail, you’ll enjoy a range of different scenery from the window of your car, from urban cities like Baltimore and Washington to the seemingly isolated peninsula of Point Lookout State Park. 

If you want the abridged version of Maryland’s horse history, we recommend you visit the most popular horse racing stop in the state: Pimlico Race Course, the home of the Preakness, in Baltimore. The Preakness is the second race of the Triple Crown and has been held at Pimlico since 1873. In the 1890s, the race moved to New York until 1908, but then returned home once again to Maryland where it’s stayed ever since. When you visit Pimlico, you can watch the races, feel the thunder, and become a part of Maryland’s iconic horse racing tradition.

While You’re In the Area

If you opt for a horseback riding lesson at Holly Ridge Farm in Willards, MD, we recommend you stop by boxcar40 to fill up afterward. Located in a decommissioned firehouse just a short drive away, this casual American eatery serves up barbeque, seafood, sandwiches, fried finger foods, and much more.


Lead Photo: Ocean Downs Casino

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