Woodlawn Vase: The Most Valuable Trophy in Sports

By US Racing Team

The trophy presented to the winning connections of the Preakness Stakes is known as the Woodlawn Vase and is considered to be the most valuable trophy in sports, and the current appraised value is reported to be in excess of $4 million. Standing 36 inches tall and weighing 400 ounces of solid sterling silver, it was created by Tiffany & Co. in 1860. Though other trophies are reported to be worth more in material, the Woodlawn Vase is virtually priceless due to its rich history.

The base of the Woodlawn Vase is 13 inches in diameter, sitting on a cross and adorned with horseshoes, a saddle, whip and rider’s cap. Engraved on it are also a field with a fence, a stallion, mare and a foal, and also a “bulletin” on which the rules of the race are presented. The centerpiece bowl is fourteen inches above the base, and fourteen inches in diameter, and has four shields — one a picture of a race horse, another a representation of Woodlawn Race Course (an now defunct facility in eastern Louisville), another is a blank for the history of the winners, and the other also blank for a portrait of the winner. Between the shields are four “figures of victory” in frosted silver, all holding wreaths in each hand. Seven inches above the bowl is a circular ornament nine inches in diameter with the portraits of eight officers of the Woodlawn Race Course Association engraved on it. On top sits a full figure of the horse Lexington and his jockey.

The Woodlawn Vase carries a great deal of history. During the Civil War, when competitive racing was put on hold, the Woodlawn Vase was buried to keep it from being discovered and melted into shot. It was disinterred when the race resumed in 1866.

The vase was first awarded in 1861 to a stakes-winning mare named Mollie Jackson at Churchill Downs in Louisville. In 1917, the Woodlawn Vase became the official trophy for the winner of the second jewel of the Triple Crown and was awarded Preakness winner Kalitan for the first time. The old tradition of allowing the owner to keep the trophy for a year following a win lasted until 1953, when the wife of Native Dancer’s owner, Jeanne Murray Vanderbilt (Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt) declined to take annual possession of the trophy because of its monetary and sentimental value to the sport. In every year that has followed the winning owner of the horse that won The Preakness Stakes was no longer allowed to keep the trophy for the year.

Now the original trophy is kept at the Baltimore Museum of Art in Maryland and brought to the Preakness Stakes each year escorted by Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers and Air National Guard Airmen in their dress uniforms donning white gloves for proper care during transportation to the “Old Hilltop’s” cupola winner’s circle for the presentation ceremony. The winning connections receive replicas to keep.


2023 Preakness Stakes Post Positions and Odds

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 National Treasure 4-1 John Velazquez Steven M. Asmussen
2 Chase The Chaos 50-1 Sheldon Russell Ed Moger Jr.
3 Mage 8-5 Javier Castellano Gustavo Delgado
4 Coffeewithchris 20-1 Jaime Rodriguez John E. Salzman Jr.
5 Red Route One 10-1 Joel Rosario Steven M. Asmussen
6 Perform 15-1 Feargal Lynch Claude R. McGaughey III
7 Blazing Sevens 6-1 Irad Ortiz Jr. Chad C. Brown
8 First Mission 5-2 Luis Saez Brad H. Cox
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