All eyes were on the battle between Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon as they pulled away from the field neck and neck. Until Rombauer came charging past them, pulling away to win the Preakness by 4 1/2 lengths. Midnight Bourbon finished second and Medina Spirit faded to third.
As reported yesterday, Rombauer is a homebred from a tiny breeding operation. Owners Diane and John Fradkin have just two broodmares and they typically sell their progeny and only race those they can’t sell. In Rombauer’s case, the Ocala Breeders Sale was delayed because of COVID-19. So they sent him to train with Michael McCarthy, intending to sell him after he proved himself on the track.
Rombauer won his first race, on turf at Del Mar. However, with a win time of 1:38.30, there were no offers. Turns out that there had been a problem with the track timer and the race was actually much faster.
By this point the Fradkins were invested in Rombauer and they decided to keep him racing. The colt provided them with their first win in their first Triple Crown race. The was also the first Preakness win for trainer Michael McCarthy and jockey Flavien Prat.
“It just goes to show you,” said McCarthy, who choked up with emotion in both his NBC postrace interview and his news conference, “small players in this game can be successful, too.”
Rombauer’s owners chose to keep him out of the Kentucky Derby and run him in the Preakness because of the smaller field and shorter distance. Looks like he made a smart choice.