Behind The Tradition Of The Preakness Black-Eyed Susan Blanket

RODGERS FORGE, Md. (WJZ) — A businessman who owned thoroughbreds that ran at Pimlico suggested to the track’s owners decades ago that his employees would be happy to make the racing blanket desired by every Preakness trainer.

Mike Schuh takes you to the place this Preakness tradition comes to life.

Seventy-three times, the winning horse has been honored with a blanket of black-eyed Susans. It’s an honor that begins at the city line. Next to the registers, a snippet of Maryland history is sewn into place.

“We are making the blanket for the Friday race,” said Kathleen Marvel, Giant florist.

Here’s the worst kept secret: because black-eyed Susans are not in season, the flowers used in the blanket are really mums. Some 2,000 are used for Friday’s race and 4,000 for the Preakness.

“It will take all the way to the ends of the table,” said Marvel.

So many, it takes a lot of patience–patience for the paparazzi, too. Shopper Beth Andresini is going to a Preakness party.

“And every year when they drape the black-eyed Susans, I say, ‘They do that at my Giant!’ So I thought this year, I’ll get a picture and I’ll show it to everybody,” Andresini said.

Others want photos and more.

“She met me at that store and asked for my autograph,” one florist said.

“I like the end because I like looking for the blanket we spent eight hours doing,” said Mark Loughner, Giant florist.

For Mike Schuh, the biggest treat was a boutonniere made from the blanket.

The blanket for the Preakness winner will be made Friday.

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