Preakness and the Black-eyed Susan
Here in Maryland, we paint the daisies black for the Preakness.
Maryland's state flower is the Black-eyed Susan and, like the blanket of roses draped over the winner of the Kentucky Derby, a blanket of wannabe Black-eyed Susans will be draped over the withers of the winner of the Preakness on Saturday afternoon.
Trouble is, as any gardener knows, Black-eyed Susans are not in bloom in May in Maryland, so yellow daisy chrysanthemums are doctored with paint to create a black-eyed center and then woven into a blanket for the winner.
(The work will take place Friday at the York Road Giant, and The Baltimore Sun will have video. Stay tuned.)
The fact is, even if the Black-eyed Susans were in bloom at Preakness time, they are a wildflower, not a commercial flower, and too delicate to be woven into a blanket, which requires perhaps 2,000 blooms.
The flower was chosen as Maryland's state flower because its colors, yellow and deep brown, echo the colors of the state's founding Calvert family. For years, the color was created for Preakness with a little black shoe polish.
That's the truth behind the Preakness flowers. The horses are real, though.