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Polarizing Medina Spirit Morning Line Favorite in the Preakness

Author: Chris Adams
Published: Wednesday May 12, 2021

Historic Pimlico Race Course will be at the center of the racing world with a stakes-loaded card highlighted by the Preakness Stakes.

History of the Preakness

The Preakness Stakes has come to be known as the 2nd jewel of the Triple Crown. However, it has at times been run outside of its current spot on the calendar. In 2020 the race became the third leg of the Triple Crown due to COVID. 

The race, which first began in 1873 is run at a distance of 9.5 furlongs on the dirt which is a half-furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby. The name Preakness comes from the first stakes winner ever to run at Pimlico Race Course.

While the winner of the Kentucky Derby gets a blanket of roses, the winner of this race will receive a blanket of Maryland’s state flower, the black-eyed Susan. 

The Preakness has been known over the years to be one of the biggest parties of the year. In recent years the track has worked to cut down some of the excessive partying but has also strived to keep the ruckus atmosphere.

Significant Stories Heading Into The Preakness

  • The Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico and Bob Baffert’s home track of Santa Anita, announced Tuesday that Medina Spirit would be allowed to run following a positive Betamethasone test in the post-race sample of the Kentucky Derby. His ability to run is based on a conditional pre-race testing protocol that would see him disqualified before the race if medications are still detected in his system.
  • Bob Baffert conceded Tuesday that the positive test may have been due to a dermatitis cream applied to Medina Spirit’s hindquarters which contained the drug in question. Given Kentucky’s rules regarding trainer oversight, this likely means Medina Spirit’s Derby win will be rescinded. There will be a lengthy appeal process before that officially happens.
  • This year’s race will see a number of familiar faces from the Road to the Kentucky Derby even though only 3 of the Derby horses return for this race. Mandaloun, who could end up the Derby winner if Medina Spirit is disqualified, is not running. 
  • On paper, there isn’t a ton of early speed which would suggest a front running score is possible. However, two horses that are confirmed to do their best running at the start are both trained by Bob Baffert. Trying to figure out which one will go and which one will rate will be a big challenge for bettors.

The Morning Line Favorite

#3 Medina Spirit: The first horse across the wire in the 2021 Kentucky Derby will enter here in the Preakness. Depending on what role you think betamethasone played in the Derby, you may see this horse as a strong player or a complete toss. There is reason to believe that this horse could get a similar trip to that in the Derby and that he will be under bet as people bet against Baffert or assume the drugs were the reason the horse won. Baffert is 6/6 with Kentucky Derby winners in the Preakness when the Preakness is run in May.

The Contenders

#1 Ram: Ram is 2-2 in his last two starts, but it is a bit concerning that he broke his maiden in a claiming race and his first stakes try will be in a Grade 1. That being said, he is trained by D. Wayne Lukas who is one of the most decorated trainers in racing.

#2 Keepmeinmind: This runner for Robertino Diodoro is a closer. This running style does not typically do well in big dirt divisions like this and this horse always seems to be a better bet to clunk up into 2nd, 3rd, or 4th than to actually win the race.

#4 Crowded Trade: One of two Chad Brown runners in the race. He won on debut before taking 2nd in the Gotham and 3rd in the Wood. The New York form in the Derby proved to be pretty average which would suggest this horse might be against. However, Brown was pretty adamant that this was the spot for this horse right away which might suggest improvement is coming.

#5 Midnight Bourbon: The Steve Asmussen trainer was disappointing in the Kentucky Derby, failing to show any meaningful early pace which he had in his previous starts. If you can make the excuse that this was a result of the unique conditions of the Kentucky Derby, you may be able to get a good price on this one.

#6 Rombauer: Seems to be a cut below the elite 3 years olds of the crop to this point. He won against a weak field in the El Camino Real but has been well beaten by the likes of Essential Quality and Highly Motivated. The good news for Rombauer is that neither of those run here so maybe it elevates his chances. 

#7 France Go De Ina: The horse is native to Japan and ships here after a 6th place finish in the UAE Derby. The trainer was on the record as saying this horse will be forwardly placed which is a productive position in American dirt racing. Foreign shippers haven’t had much Triple Crown success, but the inclusion of these runners is also a fairly new phenomenon.

#8 Unbridled Honor: The Todd Pletcher trainee is 1 for 2 in the money in graded stakes races. This includes losses to King Fury, Helium, and Hidden Stash. King Fury didn’t run in the Derby while Helium and Hidden Stash were of little consequence in the race. It’s hard to see this horse jumping up and winning here, but racing fans have an adage, “leave off Pletcher, go home on a stretcher.” 

#9 Risk Taking: The winner of the Grade 3 Withers goes out for the same connections as Crowded Trade. The horse beat Unbridled Honor to break his maiden but ran poorly in the Wood coming in behind stablemate Crowded Trade. Brown did have this horse entered at Belmont in a race where he would have been the favorite. However, the horse was scratched from the easier spot to run here which might suggest Klaravich Stables like their chances here.

#10 Concert Tour: This is the other Baffert in the race. This horse could sit a bit chilly on the board as players look to stand against Bob Baffert. If this happens it would provide great value for players. The last running for this horse was less than ideal, but he is fresh and has been training with this as his target. He wins on the lead so will likely be forward.

Daily Horse Picks Insights

Based on the speed and pace bias tool on Daily Horse Picks, winners for dirt races over a mile have won from a variety of different pace setups. However, 70% of winners have been labeled either “Fast” or “Fastest” for speed.

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