Preakness is 1st horse race to make digital souvenir NFTs

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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BALTIMORE (AP) Anyone who has ever wanted a personal video copy of Secretariat’s 1973 Preakness victory or a digital rendering of the race’s Woodlawn Vase – and an actual 28-inch replica of the trophy to go with it – is in luck.

The Preakness on Wednesday became the first horse racing event to put up for auction digital souvenirs known as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. Making available 17 items ranging from full race videos to the trophy and a special Preakness horse for the digital racing game Zed Run is another way officials hope to market an old sport to a younger audience.

“Launching an NFT collection around the Preakness, something that we know is very special and has been running for 146 years, I think will help us sort of make inroads to that that younger audience,” said David Wilson, chief marketing officer of 1/ST Racing, an arm of the Stronach Group that operates the Preakness. “We’re making incredible strides, I think, to innovate within our sport, to draw in sort of a younger audience. I think with the NFT collection, we wanted to be the first within our sport to do it.”

The Preakness partnered with Zed Run and Medium Rare, the same company that did Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski’s NFT that sold for $1.75 million and a collection for the Golden State Warriors that went for more than $2 million total. Medium Rare co-founder Adam Richman likened the phenomenon to physical memorabilia, though instead of owning Secretariat’s saddlecloth, it’s an authenticated video of his romp to the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

“When you’re able to buy the 1973 Triple Crown winner and own that piece of history, it’s pretty iconic and pretty historic,” he said.

Some of the tokens come with real-life experiences at the 2021 Preakness, including VIP tickets, a visit to the winner’s circle and naming a race on the undercard. Some of the money from the auctions will go to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

SENTIMENTAL LONG SHOT

Owner Robert Baker kept telling trainer D. Wayne Lukas in their 80s they didn’t have much time left in horse racing. After Baker’s death, Lukas decided to take a horse co-owned by Baker and William Mack to the Preakness, even if the 85-year-old doesn’t think Ram stands a great chance of winning.

“His wife is emotional about, I think, coming here and being a part of this,” Lukas said Wednesday morning outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course. “We’re the long shot, but we’re dangerous. I don’t think we can win it. I think we can probably be on the board. But we may not even do that. If we don’t, we’ll load him up and go home.”

Lukas, the Hall of Famer with 14 victories in Triple Crown races including six at the Preakness, said, “I don’t have to stand here with you guys and try to prove I can train a horse, so I’m not worried about that.” Lukas said Ram reminded him of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow in terms of how he was improving, but he’s not stressing about pulling off a major upset.

The oddsmakers agree. Ram was set as the longest shot on the board at 30-1 on the morning line.

KEEP HIM IN MIND

Keepmeinmind, one of only three Kentucky Derby horses running in the Preakness, arrived at Pimlico on Tuesday and took his first steps on the track Wednesday morning. Trainer Robertino Diodoro said he couldn’t get to his horse’s stable fast enough to make sure all the food was gone after a long van ride from Louisville.

“He ate everything,” Diodoro said. “The big thing is keeping him healthy and happy now and make sure he continues to eat well.”

Diodoro said he was “very confident” in Keepmeinmind coming off a seventh-place finish in the Derby.

“It’s the first time things have lined up for this horse,” he said. “The last five weeks, it’s finally going his way.”

Watch the Preakness on Saturday, May 15 from 2 to 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 5 to 7:15 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage is also available on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app. 

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”