Ten horses will contest the 2021 Preakness Stakes, including Medina Spirit, who passed three rounds of pre-race drug tests. There was some debate over whether Pimlico would let the Kentucky Derby winner run, even while officials in Kentucky wait for results from the “B” sample of his blood test, but Preakness organizers announced they would let the colt run after Baffert agreed to expanded drug testing, and security surveillance and reviews of his horses’ medical records while in Baltimore. His two entries in the Preakness, Medina Spirit and Concert Tour will remain under veterinary observation until the race. Bob Baffert will not attend the race in person.
Always a smaller field than the Kentucky Derby, this year it also contains a lot of new faces. The only Derby contenders besides Medina Spirit are Midnight Bourbon, who finished sixth in the Derby after a bad trip, and Keepmeinmind, who finished seventh. They are running against seven fresh horses.
1 – Ram (30-1): The longshot in this race, Ram was a $375,000 yearling who has yet to live up to his price. Although he won his last two races, there aren’t a lot of people predicting he will win, however, the rail has been very favorable at Pimlico this year, so it may give him an extra advantage.
2 – Keepmeinmind (15-1): This colt is a closer who typically runs from behind which is not the ideal style for the Preakness. He has won only one race in 7 starts but his closing fractions in the Kentucky Derby were second only to Midnight Bourbon.
3 – Medina Spirit (9-5): Despite the controversy over his drug test, Medina Spirit is still the favorite. He showed a lot of grit and determination in the Derby, holding off horses who challenged him. However, he also had a very good trip and some of the horses that might have pushed him got caught up in the large field. Some people also worry that he and Baffert’s other entry, Concert Tour, might get into a speed battle that will wear them both down.
4 – Crowded Trade (10-1): If Medina Spirit and Concert Tour set a fast pace, it just may put Crowded Trade in a position to challenge. He’s being ridden by Javier Castellano who has already won two Preakness Stakes, which gives him an advantage.
5 – Midnight Bourbon (5-1): Although he finished sixth in the Derby, Midnight Bourbon ran a good race. He was caught in the crowd leaving the starting gate, and was forced out wide but rallied and finished strong. This son of Tiznow is a big strong horse that seems to be improving. When adjusted for distance traveled, Midnight Bourbon was actually faster than Medina Spirit. It all depends on the trip.
6 – Rombauer (12-1): Bred by his owners, Diane and John Fradkin, Rombauer is their first Triple Crown entry. Because 2020 was anything but normal, they did not sell the colt from their two-mare breeding operation the way they had planned and after he turned in some winning runs, decided to keep him.
7 – France Go de Ina (20-1): This Kentucky bred horse now races in Japan. His claim to fame this past week happened when he unseated his exercise rider and took a solo gallop on the track. While he’s won two out of three races, he’s a wild card. However, for those of us who like chestnuts with a lot of chrome, he’s a looker.
8 – Unbridled Honor (15-1): This colt has been improving and his trainer, Todd Pletcher, thinks he’ll run well in a race with a contested pace.
9 – Risk Taking (15-1): Risk Taking had two very good wins this year before finishing a disappointing seventh in the Wood Memorial. However, the colt got a lot of kickback in the race (causing one eye to close) which could explain why he stopped trying.
10 – Concert Tour (5-2): Concert Tour is arguably one of the fastest horses in the race. He was originally aimed at the Derby but was given more time after a third place finish in the Arkansas Derby. He typically sits two or three lengths off the pace and “stalkers” have a strong history of winning the Preakness.
The Preakness is a very different race from the Derby and while I’m disappointed that there are so few Derby horses, I’m hoping that if Medina Spirit doesn’t put us in contention for a Triple Crown, that we see Midnight Bourbon in the winners circle. What a handsome horse!