Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Florida-bred colt's status is a question mark . . .

    BALTIMORE - Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit, who upset 18 rivals in the now-controversial Kentucky Derby at odds of 12-1, was installed at 9-5 in the morning line for Saturday’s 146th Preakness Stakes following the post-position draw at Pimlico Race Course.

    The Florida-bred son of Protonico, under investigation for a too-high, microscopic dose of a non-banned medication in the Derby, drew Post. No. 3, and is scheduled to face nine other 3-year-olds in the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. He has been entered under 'rigorous conditions' and it is not yet clear if he will be allowed to run. 

    Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for Medina Spirit’s front-running half-length decision at Churchill Downs, was awarded the return mount by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Preakness a record seven times, most notably with Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).

    Gary and Mary West’s Concert Tour, who incurred his first loss in four starts while finishing third in the Arkansas Derby last time out, will also represent Baffert in the Preakness after skipping the Kentucky Derby. The home-bred son of Street Sense, who will be ridden by Mike Smith for the first time, was rated second in the morning line at 5-2 after drawing Post. No. 10.

    The $1 million Preakness will headline a program featuring 10 stakes, six of them graded, worth $2.25 million in purses.

Winchell Thoroughbred’s Midnight Bourbon will remain on the Triple Crown Trail after finishing a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby, 8 ½ lengths behind Medina Spirit.  The son of Tiznow is rated third in the morning line at 5-1 and will break from Post No. 5.

    Midnight Bourbon finished second in the Louisiana Derby prior to his Derby run. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has enjoyed success in the Preakness Stakes, saddling Curlin and the filly Rachel Alexandra for victories in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Irad Ortiz Jr., the defending three-time Eclipse Award winner, is scheduled to ride Midnight Bourbon for the first time.

Chad Brown, who won the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing, will saddle Klaravich Stable’s Crowded Trade and Risk Taking in search of his second success in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Crowded Trade, who finished third in the Wood Memorial last time out, is rated at 10-1 in the morning line, while Risk Taking, who won the Withers before finishing a disappointing seventh in the Wood, is rated at 15-1. Crowded Trade drew Post No. 4, while Risk Taking will break from Post No. 9.

    John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer, who most recently finished third in the Blue Grass, has been shipped from Southern California. The son of Twirling Candy, who is rated at 12-1 in the morning line, earned a fees-paid berth by capturing the ‘Win & In’ El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 13. Rombauer will break from Post No. 6.

    Trainer Todd Pletcher, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, will seek his first Preakness victory with Whisper Hill Farm’s Unbridled Honor. The son of Honor Code, who finished second in the Lexington at Keeneland last time out, was rated at 15-1 in the morning line after drawing Post No. 8.

    Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm's Keepmeinmind will join Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon as the only horses in the starting gate that ran in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Laoban trailed the Derby field before closing well to finish seventh. The Robertino Diodoro-trained colt, who has been winless in three starts this year after winning the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill last fall, is rated at 15-1 in the morning line and will break from Post. No. 2.

    Yuji Inaida’s France Go de Ina, who raced three times in Japan before finishing sixth in the March 27 UAE Derby in Dubai, is rated at 20-1 in the morning line and will break from Post No. 7. The son of Will Take Charge will go to post five years after Japan-based Lani finished fifth in 2016.

    Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled six Preakness winners during his Hall of Fame career, will be represented by Ram, who is slated to make his stakes debut following back-to-back victories in a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Oaklawn Park and an allowance race at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Christina Baker and William Mack’s son of American Pharoah was rated at 30-1 in the morning line after drawing the Post No. 1.

Sunday, May 9, 2021
Preakness entry on the line . . .
    “Integrity in the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing is the ultimate priority for 1/ST RACING and the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC). 1/ST RACING has been an industry leader instituting processes and protocols that have led to nationwide medication reform and increased accountability. We are committed to achieving the highest level of horse care and safety standards, and we have a proven track record of pushing those standards forward. 

     “1/ST RACING and MJC intend to review the relevant facts and information relating to the reported medication positive as a result of the post-race blood sample testing completed by Churchill Downs following the 147th Kentucky Derby involving Medina Spirit trained by Bob Baffert. We are consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission and any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.”
Friday, May 7, 2021
3-year-old colt has been campaigning in Japan . . .
    BALTIMORE - Yuji Inaida’s France Go de Ina is reported to have traveled well on a flight from Japan to Los Angeles, the first leg of an itinerary that will bring the 3-year-old son of Will Take Charge to Pimlico Race Course, where he is scheduled to run in the May 15th Preakness Stakes.

    France Go de Ina, who arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday, will be in quarantine there until Saturday, when the Kentucky-bred colt will board a plane for a scheduled flight to Newark.  The Hideyuki Mori-trained colt is expected to arrive at Pimlico Saturday evening following a four-hour van r

    “The horse seems to have handled the trip well and has settled into quarantine well. We fly to Baltimore on the 8th,” said Kate Hunter, the Triple Crown field representative for the Japan Racing Association.

    France Go de Ina will be ridden by Joel Rosario, who was aboard for a sixth-place finish in the UAE Derby on the March 27 Dubai World Cup undercard. Following a fourth-place finish in his career debut at 6 ½ furlongs, France Go de Ina won back-to-back 1 1/8-mile races at Japan’s Hanshin Racecourse to conclude his 2020 campaign. The UAE Derby, in which he was compromised by a slow start, was his first race of 2021.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
$500,000 guarantee on Thursday
    HALLANDALE BEACH - Racing returns to Gulfstream Park Thursday with an eight-race program highlighted by a guaranteed pool in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 of $500,000. First race post is 12:50 p.m.

    There could be two key races in the Rainbow sequence, both maiden claiming events.

    The third leg is a $50,000 maiden claiming race for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf. The race drew a field of seven led by a tepid 3-1 in the morning-line Shea On a Mission, a Carlos David-trained daughter of Mission Impazible making her career debut. Bettabe Swift draws the rail after finishing second in her career debut at the same distance and surface for trainer Kathleen O’Connell. Uncaptured Heart will try the turf for the first time for trainer Ralph Nicks.

    The eighth race, the final leg of the sequence, will also be a five-furlong turf event for 3-year-olds and up. Unlonely is listed at 7-5 off a pair of second-place finishes for trainer Joseph Saffie Jr. Nketiah drops from maiden special weight company after a fifth-place finish in his debut on the dirt at Tampa. Gilberto Zerpa is the trainer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Medina Spirit doing well after Derby victory . . .
    BALTIMORE - John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer, third in the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start, is headed to the May 15 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. "That’s the plan,” trainer Michael McCarthy said Monday.

    The homebred son of Twirling Candy automatically qualified for a starting berth in the 146th Preakness with his victory in the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 13 at Golden Gate Fields. He was third, beaten 5¾ lengths in the Blue Grass behind champion Essential Quality and Highly Motivated, who finished fourth and 10th, respectively, in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

    Since Rombauer has been most effective running from off the pace, McCarthy said the Blue Grass did not suit him because there was no early speed in the race at Keeneland. “The horse laid a little closer than I would have liked but ran a credible third,” McCarthy said.

    Rombauer was second by three-quarters of a length in the American Pharoah (G1) on Sept. 26 at Santa Anita and completed his 2-year-old season with a fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 6 at Keeneland. “He’s done everything and made a nice little progression from 2 to 3,” McCarthy said. “He’s put on a little weight. He’s a horse that takes pretty good care of himself, so he’s been pretty easy that way.”

     McCarthy said that Rombauer will have his final work at Santa Anita and will ship to Pimlico early next week.

 ‘All Systems Good’ for Kentucky Derby Hero Medina Spirit      

     Last September, Jimmy Barnes watched on his phone in an ambulance as his boss Bob Baffert captured a record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby with Authentic in the COVID-delayed Classic. Saturday, Baffert’s long-time assistant trainer was back watching the race in person at Churchill Downs as Medina Spirit provided Baffert a record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby victory.

     Barnes had sustained a fractured wrist when the barn’s other 2020 Derby entrant, Thousand Words, reared and flipped as the assistant trainer attempted to saddle him in the paddock’s walking ring. Knocked off balance, Barnes fell and landed awkwardly on his right wrist. Barnes was back at Baffert’s Churchill Downs barn the next morning after the break was set at Louisville’s Norton Audubon Hospital, but he ultimately had surgery in California with screws inserted to stabilize the injury.

     “Especially if you win, you want to be here,” Barnes reflected Monday at Churchill Downs. “But I’d been here enough and we’d won it enough that I knew what was ahead of me. They didn’t know how hard it was going to be to get out of here. They said we could either go now (to the hospital) or it could be like 8 o’clock when you get out of here. I knew I probably had four or five hours at least ahead of me, setting it and doing all that. So I said, ‘Let’s go.’ And I watched it on my phone.”

     The mishaps weren’t over, however, as Authentic later knocked down Baffert in the Derby winner’s circle on the turf course.

     “It was nice to have Jimmy there and nobody fell down in the winner’s circle,” Baffert said Sunday of Medina Spirit’s victory in the 147th Derby. “It was very enjoyable, and it was good to do it in front of fans.”

     Now back on his pony, Barnes again is overseeing Baffert’s Pimlico-bound contingent, which, in addition to the Derby winner, could include Rebel Stakes winner Concert Tour for the May 15 Preakness as well as horses for other stakes next week. Baffert will be out to break a tie with fellow Hall of Famer Robert Wyndham Walden, who had seven Preakness winners between 1875 and 1888. Baffert’s most recent of seven Preakness champions include Triple Crown winners Justify in 2018 and American Pharoah in 2015. Each of his Preakness winners went on to be voted 3-year-old champion.

     Medina Spirit, who has never been worse than second in six career starts, paid $26.20 to win as the sixth betting choice of 19 while marking the seventh California-based horse to win the Derby in the last 10 years.

     “Was I surprised?” Barnes asked. “He was running against good horses in California. California horses are usually right there in the Kentucky Derby. He’d run second to (now-injured stablemate) Life Is Good. He was second to John Sadler’s horse (Rock Your World) in the Santa Anita Derby. So he’d run respectable races, maybe not the way we needed him to run. He wants to be up front, out in the clear and we had other horses who were faster than him. It just didn’t work out for him. He ended up having to be behind and having to close. But going a mile and a quarter, you just never know: Are we going to go on the lead the whole way? I thought there was enough speed that someone would have gone with us.”

     Medina Spirit had a second walk day Monday since keeping runner-up Mandaloun at bay for a half-length victory Saturday, with third-place Hot Rod Charlie and fourth-place favorite Essential Quality both beaten about a length for everything.

     “He’ll probably walk three days – that’s our typical deal,” Barnes said. “Maybe Wednesday he’ll jog. We’ll see how the weather is. It’s hard to give them too many days off when we’re coming right around. But all systems look good right now. Everything is good.”

     Baffert also has Concert Tour, who bypassed the Derby after finishing third in the Arkansas Derby, under Preakness consideration. Concert Tour worked five-eighths of a mile in 1:00.60 Sunday and is scheduled to work again this weekend. Gary and Mary West’s son of 2007 Derby winner Street Sense walked Monday and will jog today, Barnes said.