Rombauer attacks late, tops Medina Spirit

All eyes were on Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit at the 146th Preakness Stakes, but it was 11-1 Rombauer who overtook the field to win the second race of the Triple Crown. Medina Spirit had been running wire to wire in a controversial derby win two weeks ago and seemed poised to do the same at the Pimlico circuit, but Rombauer put on a never-ending attack in the final meters of the race to claim victory .

Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon broke out well early on, with Medina Spirit taking an early lead on the first turn. Midnight Bourbon kept the pressure on Medina Spirit on the backstretch and as they got onto the frontstretch, Midnight Bourbon took the lead. But Rombauer was a late attacker who waited until the field had turned home to charge forward and captured the win by four lengths.

The race marked Coach Michael McCarthy’s first Preakness Stakes win of his career. Midnight Bourbon was second at odds of 3-1 and Medina Spirit, who had been the favorite at 2-1, was third.

Kentucky Derby winners, given their status as the second jewel of the Triple Crown, always claim an inordinate share of the attention given to preakness. As NBC’s Steve Kornacki noted Saturday, 24 derby winners have entered the Preakness since 1995 prior to this year. Of these, 19 finished in the top 3 and 11 won the race.

But there has never been a derby winner who came to Pimlico like this: in the shadow of a possible, still unresolved disqualification from the derby.

A week after Medina Spirit’s dominant victory at Churchill Downs, the horse’s blood is tested traces of betamethasone appeared, a regulated anti-inflammatory. Betamethasone is not illegal, but it cannot be used within 14 days of a race because of its pain-relieving properties.

Churchill Downs has banned trainer Bob Baffert from racing horses at his facility pending the resolution of a second test which, if positive, could cost Medina Spirit the win. (All bets placed on Medina Spirit were closed when the race was deemed official; Even if runner-up Mandaloun was declared the winner, no tickets could be redeemed for that win.)

At the time of testing positive, Medina Spirit was preparing to travel to Baltimore. The Maryland Jockey Club, which oversees Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness, said at the time of the positive test that it would await more facts before making a decision on whether to stop Medina Spirit or other horses Baffert trained from running this weekend.

Baffert, who had just finished his record-breaking seventh derby win, vehemently denied any wrongdoing towards Medina Spirit, even going so far as to do so blame the horse for failing the test on the “abandon culture”. But a day later he reversed courseand acknowledged that an ointment the horse had been treated with up until race day contained betamethasone.

Despite it, The MJC allowed Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, another horse trained by Baffert, to run that weekend, where they went off among the favorites. Baffert himself was not present, choosing not to be what he saw as a distraction over the weekend. Before the race, Medina Spirit underwent more rigorous testing than the other horses – three in all – and failed all tests.

Just minutes before the race, Medina Spirit was listed as the favorite at 2-1, with Midnight Bourbon at 3-1 and Concert Tour slightly behind at 7-2. Crowded Trade was far behind at 8-1.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MAY 15: Jockey Flavien Prat #6 on Rombauer celebrates as he wins the 146th round of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 15, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – MAY 15: Jockey Flavien Prat #6 on Rombauer celebrates as he wins the 146th round of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 15, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]

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