The original Woodlawn Vase, designed by Tiffany, is placed on the winner's circle podium at Pimlico Race Course

The original Woodlawn Vase, designed by Tiffany, is placed on the winner's circle podium at Pimlico Race Course

Skip Dickstein

Native Dancer's Preakness Trophy Offered at Auction

On the block May 23 at Doyle in New York.

The 1953 Preakness Stakes trophy earned by Native Dancer will be auctioned by Doyle in New York May 23.

There are few American racing collectibles as important and evocative as this sterling silver trophy that was presented to Alfred G. Vanderbilt Jr., Native Dancer's owner.

The original Woodlawn Vase is a massive, 36-inch-tall sterling trophy made by Tiffany & Co. in 1860 for Woodlawn Race Course in Lexington. In 1917, the Woodlawn Vase became the winner's trophy for the Preakness and was passed annually from one year's winner to the next.

Upon Native Dancer's victory in 1953, Jeanne Murray Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt's wife, declined the statue due to its historical significance to the sport, and the Woodlawn Vase was sent to the Baltimore Art Museum.

A replica of the Woodlawn Vase was created by the Baltimore firm of Schofield for the Vanderbilts, and thus began the modern tradition of a new Preakness trophy for each winner.

Doyle specialists can find only one Preakness trophy previously sold at auction, that for 1970 winner Personality, who did not achieve as many wins or gain the national affection showered on Native Dancer in 1953. Nor did it have an owner as highly regarded and influential to the history of the sport as Vanderbilt.

The May 23 auction coincides to the day with the 65th anniversary of Native Dancer's historic win. The public is invited to the exhibition on view May 19-21 at Doyle, located at 175 East 87th Street in Manhattan.

The auction catalog can be viewed at Doyle.com.

Nicknamed the "Grey Ghost," Native Dancer was the heavy favorite heading into the Preakness Stakes, which he won in a hotly contested race. He later won the Belmont and Travers stakes. Native Dancer's lone defeat of his 22-race career came in the Kentucky Derby, costing him the Triple Crown.