Preakness to feature 1st woman to produce Triple Crown race

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
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BALTIMORE — Lindsay Schanzer went to bed Saturday night confident about her plans to produce NBC’s Preakness broadcast. Then word emerged that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test.

“I probably went to sleep with a smile on my face and then woke up to a couple texts and then that smiled turned into something else,” Schanzer said. “It has challenged me, challenged our production team in a lot of ways, but we are always ready to adjust as news breaks and as the landscape changes.”

Schanzer will make television history at the Preakness when she becomes the first woman to produce a Triple Crown race live on site. The 32-year-old attended the Preakness a couple of times as a fan in college and now will lead NBC Sports’ production of the race many will be watching to see if Medina Spirit can keep Triple Crown hopes alive, albeit with a giant asterisk.

After breaking into the business as a runner and getting her feet wet as a stage manager in a commentators’ booth at Wimbledon, this is a Pimlico debut Schanzer won’t soon forget.

“I didn’t realistically expect that things wouldn’t change over the course of the week,” she said. “I just didn’t think it would be quite like this.”

MEDINA SPIRIT TRAINING WELL

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes has no concerns about Medina Spirit coming back for the Preakness two weeks after a wire-to-wire win in the Derby. Medina Spirit galloped a mile and a half Thursday and is training as well as could be expected.

“He had no wear and tear, came out in excellent shape and moved right ahead,” said Barnes, who is leading the training with Bob Baffert not in Baltimore after Medina Spirit’s failed drug test. “Couldn’t be better. He came out of the Derby in fine shape. He wasn’t a tired horse, rebounded quickly.”

SMART ROMBAUER

For all the talk about Medina Spirit, Concert Tour and Midnight Bourbon, trainer Michael McCarthy likes what he sees out of 12-1 Rombauer in the leadup to the Preakness.

Rombauer has only raced twice since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November and is coming off a third-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 3.

“Distance doesn’t seem to be an issue for him,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think the pace will be quite as stern in this race as it was in the Breeders’ Cup. I could be wrong. His best races have shown when he comes back from the second flight of horses, so he’s a little bit pace dependent like that, but the horse is doing well.”

McCarthy said Romauer typically trains well and isn’t worried about that. With the chance to spring an upset, McCarthy said Rombauer’s “best weapon is between his ears. He’s a smart little horse.”

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.”