Ria Antonia, left, with jockey Javier Castellano aboard winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park last fall, is attempting to become just the second female since 1924 to win the Preakness. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

When Ria Antonia runs at Pimlico Saturday, she will attempt to become only the second female since 1924 to win the Preakness. But the odds against a filly are not as daunting as they sound.

Fillies commonly ran against colts in the 19th century and the early 20th century, and four of them won the Preakness between 1903 and 1924. But in the post-war years, owners and trainers rarely entered fillies in the Triple Crown events. Not a single filly started in a Triple Crown race in the two decades prior to 1980. That year, Genuine Risk became a national heroine by winning the Kentucky Derby, and paved the way for others of her sex to try the classics. Since 1980, fillies have made 20 starts in the Triple Crown races, accounting for four victories and three second-place finishes — better percentages than the male starters. The last female winner in the classics was Rachel Alexandra in the 2009 Preakness.

Ria Antonia, however, is no Rachel Alexandra. After losing the Kentucky Oaks by 15 lengths, she appears totally overmatched in the Preakness. However, she will lose because of her relative lack of talent, not because of her gender.

The record of fillies in the Triple Crown races since 1980:

Kentucky Derby

1980: Genuine Risk, won

1982: Cupecoy’s Joy, 10th

1984: Althea, 19th

1984: Life’s Magic, eighth

1988: Winning Colors, won

1995: Serena’s Song, 16th

1999: Three Ring, 19th

1999: Excellent Meeting, fifth

2008: Eight Belles, second

2010: Devil May Care, 10th


1980: Genuine Risk, second

1988: Winning Colors, third

1999: Excellent Meeting, pulled up

2009: Rachel Alexandra, won

Belmont Stakes

1980: Genuine Risk, second

1988: Winning Colors, sixth

1996: My Flag, third

1999: Silverbulletday, seventh

2007: Rags to Riches, won

2013: Unlimited Budget, sixth

— Andrew Beyer