All eyes were on Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit at the 146th Preakness Stakes, but it was 11-1 Rombauer who overtook the field to win the second race of the Triple Crown. Medina Spirit had spearheaded a controversial Derby win two weeks ago and seemed to be doing the same on the Pimlico Race Course, but Rombauer challenged forever in the final meters of the race to claim victory.
Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon broke out well early on, with Medina Spirit taking the lead early in the first corner. Midnight Bourbon kept the pressure on Medina Spirit through the home stretch, and when they got into the front stretch, Midnight Bourbon took the lead. But Rombauer was a belated striker, waited for the field to turn home to charge forward, and won the win by four lengths.
The race marked the first Preakness Stakes victory for coach Michael McCarthy. Midnight Bourbon finished second at odds of 3-1 and Medina Spirit, who was 2-1 favorite, came third.
Kentucky Derby winners, given their status as the second jewel of the Triple Crown, always claim an overwhelming share of the attention that goes into preakness. Since 1995, as NBC’s Steve Kornacki stated on Saturday, 24 Derby winners have entered the Preakness before this year. 19 of them ended up in the top 3 and 11 won the race.
But never before has a derby winner come to Pimlico like this: in the shadow of a possible, as yet unexplained disqualification from the derby.
A week after Medina Spirit’s dominant win at Churchill Downs, blood tests on the horse revealed traces of betamethasone, a regulated anti-inflammatory. Betamethasone is not illegal, but due to its pain relieving properties, it should not be used within 14 days of a race.
Churchill Downs banned trainer Bob Baffert from racing horses at his facility pending resolution of a second test which, if positive, could cost Medina Spirit the win. (All bets on Medina Spirit were closed when the race was declared official; even if runner-up Mandaloun was named the winner, no tickets could be redeemed for that win.)
The story goes on
At the time of the positive test, Medina Spirit was preparing to travel to Baltimore. The Maryland Jockey Club, which oversees the Pimlico Race Course and Preakness, said at the time of testing positive it would wait for more facts before deciding whether to prevent Medina Spirit or other Baffert-trained horses from running this weekend.
Baffert, shortly before his record-breaking seventh Derby win, vehemently denied any wrongdoing against Medina Spirit and even went so far as to blame the horse’s failed test on “break culture”. But he reversed course a day later, admitting that an ointment that had been used on the horse until race day contained betamethasone.
Regardless, the MJC allowed Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, another horse trained by Baffert, to run that weekend where they were among the favorites. Baffert himself wasn’t there so as not to be what he thought was a distraction over the weekend. Before the race, Medina Spirit was subjected to more stringent tests than the other horses – three in total – and tested negative on all tests.
Just minutes before the race, Medina Spirit was listed as a favorite at 2-1, with Midnight Bourbon slightly behind at 3-1 and Concert Tour at 7-2. Crowded Trade was way behind at 8-1.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – MAY 15: Jockey Flavien Prat # 6 riding Rombauer celebrates as he wins the 146th run of the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course on May 15, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith / Getty Images)
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected].
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