Lukas-trained long shot Market King cleared for Preakness

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BALTIMORE — Long shot Market King has been cleared by officials to race in the Preakness on Saturday.

Market King had been on the veterinarian’s list in Kentucky after being scratched before the Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard on May 4. He was entered in the Preakness on the condition that he’d only run if he passed the adequate tests to be removed from the list, and those results came back satisfactory on Thursday.

“He’s off the list and good to go,” Kentucky Horse Racing Commission equine medical director Dr. Mary Scollay told The Associated Press by phone.

The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Market King arrived at Pimlico Race Course on Tuesday and trained each of the past two mornings. Lukas borrowed trainer friend Bob Baffert’s exercise rider for Market King’s workout Thursday morning and said his horse appeared to be in great shape.

“He’s doing well,” Lukas said. “He’s done everything I’ve asked of him. He’s doing very well. He shipped in here beautifully and everything. He’s doing well. He’s very alert.”

Market King last ran in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 6 and finished 11th. He’s a 30-1 shot in a 13-horse field at the Preakness, but that’s not much of a disincentive for Lukas, who has won the race six times and often by surprise.

“I’m 30-1 every year here,” Lukas said. “We’ve had great luck here. Bob and I both train a lot alike and we’ve got 13 or 14 of them in between us. We train a lot alike and I think that our style of training lends itself well to this type of race and this track.”

Lukas has been up front that he isn’t sure whether Market King can handle the 1-3/16 mile distance of the middle jewel of the Triple Crown. The 83-year-old wonders if Market King might be a really good horse to run a mile but is taking a chance because of how the Preakness sets up.

“I never was realistic when I first came here, but I’m getting better at it,” Lukas said. “But if you’re going to stretch a horse and see if they can run it, this is the best place. This track lends itself to maybe speed holding on a little longer. So we’ll try.”

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.