Rombauer powers past dueling Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon to win 2021 Preakness Stakes

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Rombauer sped down the homestretch past a tight battle between Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon to win the 2021 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

This is the Triple Crown debut for trainer Michael McCarthy. Jockey Flavien Prat made his Preakness debut. Prat won the 2019 Kentucky Derby aboard Country House after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference.

Rombauer set off at 11-1 and paid $25.60 to win, $10.00 to place and $5.20 to show. Midnight Bourbon (3-1) paid out $4.60 to place and $3.00 to show. Medina Spirit (2-1) paid $2.80 to show.

John and Diane Fradkin are the breeders and owners of the Kentucky-bred grandson of Candy Ride (ARG).

Before the Preakness, Rombauer had raced only three times on the dirt and lost every time out. He had two career wins: one on the turf and one on a synthetic track.

This comes less than a week after Bob Baffert announced that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit had failed a post-Derby drug test, showing 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone. Since last fall, using any steroids within 14 days before a race is prohibited in Kentucky. Baffert initially said the horse had never been treated with the drug, 14 days prior or otherwise.

The Baffert camp requested a second test called a split sample. Churchill Downs slapped him with an immediate suspension from running any horses at the track, adding that, “if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner.”

On Tuesday morning, Baffert said Medina Spirit had been treated for dermatitis on his hind end with a topical ointment called Otomax, which contains betamethasone.

In order for the colt to run in the Preakness, Baffert agreed to a set of conditions from The Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club that included rigorous pre-race testing. The night before the Preakness, Medina Spirit was officially cleared to run.

Baffert also fielded Concert Tour, who finished ninth with 2018 Triple Crown winner Mike Smith in the irons. Japan-based France Go de Ina, the only international competitor, took seventh. D. Wayne Lukas’ Ram, the first offspring of American Pharoah to run in a Triple Crown race, finished last.

Below is the order of finish for the 146th Preakness Stakes: 

  1. Rombauer
  2. Midnight Bourbon
  3. Medina Spirit
  4. Keepmeinmind
  5. Crowded Trade
  6. Unbridled Honor
  7. France Go de Ina
  8. Risk Taking
  9. Concert Tour
  10. Ram

Watch the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the 2021 Triple Crown, on Saturday, June 5 only on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

Irad Ortiz sets single-season record with 77th stakes win

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NEW YORK – Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. earned his record 77th single-season North American stakes victory on Saturday when he guided Dr B to victory in the $200,000 Go for Wand at Aqueduct.

The 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico broke the old mark of 76 set by the late Hall of Fame rider Garrett Gomez in 2007.

“This is great. Amazing feeling,” said Ortiz, Jr., who won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey from 2018-20. “Gomez did it in 2007 and he was a great rider, one of the best in the game. I’m so happy just to be a part of this. I love this sport.”

Ortiz Jr. won the Belmont Stakes with Mo Donegal in June to go with Breeders’ Cup victories in the Juvenile, Filly & Mare Sprint and Sprint. He also earned nine other Grade 1 wins in New York, including Life Is Good in the Woodward and Whitney and Nest in the Alabama and Coaching Club Oaks. He won riding titles at Belmont’s spring-summer meet and Saratoga’s summer meet.

Ortiz Jr. leads North American riders with 304 overall victories this year. His purse earnings totaled over $35.8 million going into Saturday’s races, which already surpassed his single-season record of $34.1 million in 2019.

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.”