Rombauer rolled home to an emphatic three-and-one-half-lengths victory in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, capturing the second leg of the U.S. Triple Crown. Trained by Michael McCarthy, the son of Twirling Candy settled midpack behind a reasonable pace before inching forward and eventually angling to the clear at the top of the lane beneath jockey Flavien Prat. At that point, Rombauer blew past rivals Midnight Bourbon and race favorite Medina Spirit en route to the first grade one victory of his career. The 11/1 chance stopped the clock in 1:53.62, a final time that goes down as the eighth-fastest Preakness in the 146-year history of the race.
Midnight Bourbon, who took a tremendous amount of support at the betting windows to go off as the narrow second choice in the wagering at odds of 3/1, pressed Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit throughout before taking control at the top of the stretch. It was at that point that the son of Tiznow was confronted by Rombauer, proving no match for the eventual winner. Midnight Bourbon again gave a good account of himself for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, earning his position as one of the better three-year-olds of this generation.
The beaten favorite at odds of 2/1, Medina Spirit was able to procure the lead beneath John Velazquez, in similar fashion to the way in which he won this year’s Kentucky Derby. Entering the far turn at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Protonico was confronted by Midnight Bourbon and did not put forth any real challenge, wilting to finish a well-beaten third. Given the headlines that surrounded the colt following his medication overage exiting the Kentucky Derby, it goes without saying that the dull performance will only stoke the flames of those who question his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert.
Keepmeinmind, the seventh-place finisher in this year’s Derby, rallied from the back of the pack to round out the superfecta in this year’s Preakness at odds of 14/1. The Robertino Diodoro trainee lacks any early speed and has shown a penchant for breaking slowly from the gate. This combination almost certainly eliminates this colt from win contention, but it can lend itself to picking up pieces and cashing checks for his connections.
One of two trained by Chad Brown, Crowded Trade finished a lackluster fifth on Saturday, taking up a lovely position midpack on the inside of the track before failing to threaten at any point. There were two questions surrounding this horse as he entered the Preakness Stakes: how good was he, and did he want to go this far? It is difficult to answer the first question accurately if the second question is not addressed. It is likely the Preakness distance is entirely too far for the son of More Than Ready. If this is in fact that case, he should not be judged on today’s poor performance in Baltimore and should be given another chance at shorter distances, specifically those contested at the one-turn variety.
Unbridled Honor rallied from the rear of the field for trainer Todd Pletcher, but the questions remain regarding his ability on a fast main track. Perhaps in time he will improve, but for now, he is best suited for wet racing surfaces. The Japanese-based France Go de Ina was much more forwardly placed this afternoon compared to the UAE Derby in March, due in large part to a cleaner break beneath jockey Joel Rosario. Despite being well positioned, the son of Will Take Charge faltered when the real running began, fading to seventh.
Risk Taking was the second of two for Chad Brown, and he never appeared to be doing any serious running throughout the race. Class relief and perhaps even a longer distance / equipment change will be necessary to see this colt take a step forward.
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In many eyes, the disappointment of the race will have come from Bob Baffert’s second entrant, Concert Tour. However, when assessing the pace scenario of the race, it seemed unlikely Concert Tour would be a true threat, as he prefers to be placed on the lead in his races – the same position that Derby winner Medina Spirit prefers. Regardless of the tactics, this must be interpreted as a terrible performance by the son of Street Sense, and one cannot help but wonder if a turnback in distance to one-turn races is in order.
Rounding out the field of ten three-year-olds was Ram, who, somehow, went off at odds of 15/1 despite warranting odds closer to 150/1 based on his credentials entering the Preakness Stakes. Races against weaker company and likely at shorter distances are in order for the D. Wayne Lukas trainee.