Rombauer Is Surprising Winner in 2021 Preakness

By Nancy Brannon

This Triple Crown debut for trainer Michael McCarthy, with jockey Flavien Prat making his Preakness debut, saw the 11-1 odds horse Rombauer make an amazing sprint down the finish to upset the leaders Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon in the 2021 Preakness at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland, Saturday May 15, 2021.

Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon both broke well from the starting gate and Medina Spirit took the early lead just as he had done in the Derby. Midnight Bourbon was in Medina Spirit’s pocket during the first quarter mile and into the clubhouse turn, with Concert Tour marking third. Rombauer was not even in the top six at this point. Then the horse from Japan, France Go de Ina, slipped in on the rail to move into third place. But as France Go de Ina began to retreat, Rombauer moved into third, still a couple of lengths behind the leaders. Then Midnight Bourbon grabbed the lead from Medina Spirit and the two battled stride for stride going into the stretch. Just after the turn and into the straight-away, Rombauer, coming up on the outside, poured on the speed and took the lead coming by the eighth pole. “Rombauer and Flavien Prat win the Preakness, pulling away by four on the wire!” screeched NBC announcer Larry Collmus.
Top finishers were: Rombauer; second, Midnight Bourbon; third, Medina Spirit.

Fourth: Keepmeinmind; fifth, Crowded Trade; sixth, Unbridled Honor; seventh, France Go de Ina; eighth, Risk Taking; ninth, Concert Tour; tenth, Ram. Bred and owned by John and Diane Fradkin, Rombauer is a son of Twirling Candy.

In another first at the Preakness, Lindsay Schanzer made television history as the first woman to produce a Triple Crown race live on site. She led NBC Sports’ production of the race that many would watch to see if Medina Spirit could win the second leg of the Triple Crown races.

Rombauer’s win was an exciting finish to a day that had started under the cloud of the failed drug test of Medina Spirit (21 picograms of betamethasone) and remembrances of failed drug tests for other horses trained by Bob Baffert. If Medina Sprit’s second test comes back positive, the horse will be only the second horse disqualified from his Derby win for a drug violation.

In an NBC video, Tim Layden traced Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s tumultuous history of run-ins with drug violations: “The Derby was Baffert’s fifth drug violation in 15 months,” he said on YouTube.

Baffert now faces two new lawsuits. Following the initial failed drug test, four horseplayers filed a class action lawsuit against Medina Spirit’s owner, Zedan Racing Stables, and trainer, Bob Baffert in United States District Court for the Central District of California. According to Bloodhorse, “In the suit the wagers of each player are outlined along with their potential winnings, ‘but for the illegal, drug-induced win by Medina Spirit,’ the suit alleges. The plaintiffs accuse Baffert of ‘repeated acts of illegally doping and entering horses into Thoroughbred races in the state of California and elsewhere.’”

In 2020 Baffert was sanctioned four times by regulators after his horses failed post-race drug tests, Bloodhorse reported.
A class action lawsuit also has been filed against Baffert and Churchill Downs in Jefferson (Ky.) Circuit Court by Anthony Mattera, who is being represented by Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger, Bloodhorse reported. That case argues that Churchill track officials “should have had a system in place to test horses and get the results prior to races and scratch any horse that tests positive for a banned substance,” Bloodhorse reported. “Mattera’s suit alleges negligence against both Baffert and Churchill Downs, Inc., and holds the racetrack responsible for failing to detect and scratch ineligible horses prior to them [sic] competing,” wrote Tim Sullivan in the Louisville Courier Journal.

NBC Preakness commentators discussed horseracing’s drug problem and expressed the need for consistency across the 38states with Thoroughbred racing, and their different defined racing jurisdictions and rules. The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was touted as a potential solution for the drug problem as the US Antidoping Agency takes over drug testing in 2022.


Angst, Frank. 2021. “Horseplayers File Lawsuit Against Baffert, Zedan.” Bloodhorse. May 14.
Layden, Tim. 2021. “Preakness Stakes 2021: Drug violations loom over Bob Baffert’s horse racing legacy. NBC Sports. May 15.
Sullivan, Tim. 2021. “Kentucky Derby bettors suing Bob Baffert and seeking his removal from horse racing.” Louisville Courier Journal. May 14.
Victory photo courtesy of Horse Network

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