Lady and The Track | September 27, 2023

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Home » Kentucky Derby » Derby Winner Medina Spirit Favored For Preakness Stakes 146

Derby Winner Medina Spirit Favored For Preakness Stakes 146

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Despite Medication Controversy, All Systems Go For Rags-To-Riches Colt

By Margaret Ransom

Medina Spirit. Photo: Anika Miskar

Ten runners were entered for the 146th running of The Preakness Stakes (GI) at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland, including controversial Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Medina Spirit and his stablemate Concert Tour, both for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The pair underwent extensive pre-race drug testing after the Derby winner turned up with a post-race positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone following the first leg of the Triple Crown two weeks ago and both were cleared of all banned substances and will run.

John Velazquez will be back aboard Medina Spirit and Mike Smith will ride Concert Tour. Velazquez – in his Hall of Fame career – has yet to win the middle jewel while Smith has booted home two winners, Pine Bluff in 1992 and 2018 winner and Triple Crown hero Justify. Baffert is the race’s leading trainer (modern day) with seven winners, including the only two living Triple Crown winners, Justify and American Pharaoh in 2015.

Everyone knows what Medina Spirit has been up to since his win under the Twin Spires two weeks ago, but Concert Tour has been training at Churchill Downs and waiting for this race after his third-place finish as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby (GI) five weeks ago prompted his connections to hit the Derby abort button. The Gary and Mary West homebred son of Street Sense previously won the Rebel Stakes (G2) in March in wire-to-wire fashion and likely will be heading to the lead again here, which puts his stablemate in an interesting pickle – will he go to the lead as he did in the Derby or will he be the Baffert runner to sit off the pace?

Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown will send out Gotham Stakes (GIII) runner-up Crowded Trade and Withers Stakes (GIII) winner Risk Taking. Risk Taking was most recently seventh as the favorite in the Wood Memorial Stakes (GII) while Crowded Trade finished third that day. Jose Ortiz will be aboard Risk Taking while Javier Castellano has the assignment on Crowded Trade.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, already the owner of six Preakness Stakes trophies, will send out Christina Baker and William Mack’s former claimer Ram coming off a win in a first-level allowance race at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. The son of American Pharoah will lead the field to post with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons for his first stab at stakes company.

Rombauer will start for the first time since finishing third in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) five weeks ago. The California-based El Camino Real Derby winner, who is trained by Michael McCarthy, adds the services of Flavien Prat for the first time.

Kentucky-bred and Japanese-based France Go Da Ina, who is trained by Hideyuki Mori, will become the first horse from Japan to compete in the Preakness since Lani in 2016 and the first Japanese horse to compete in a Triple Crown race since Master Fencer ran in the 2019 Belmont Stakes. France Go de Ina, who is by champion Will Take Charge, began his career with a fourth-place finish at Toyko Racecourse at 6 ½ furlong in November. He then won two straight at Hanshin Racecourse at nine furlongs as a juvenile then in his only start so far this year as a sophomore finished sixth in the UAE Derby (GII) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. He has made morning training at Pimlico interesting since he arrived earlier in the week, dropping his rider one day and trying to drop his rider on at least two other occasions.

Joel Rosario, who rode Concert Tour in his last start and Rock Your World in the Derby, will ride France Go de Ina. He has also yet to ride a Preakness Stakes winner.

Joining the field is Lexington S. (GIII) runner-up Unbridled Honor (15-1), Kentucky Derby seventh-place finisher Keepmeinmind (15-1) and LeComte Stakes (GIII) winner Midnight Bourbon.

The 2021 Preakness Stakes will air from 2 to 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and from 5 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage is also available to stream live on and on the NBC Sports app.

The 2021 Preakness field:

Post Position Horse Jockey ML Odds
1 Ram Ricardo Santana Jr. 30-1
2 Keepmeinmind David Cohen 15-1
3 Medina Spirit John Velazquez 9-5
4 Crowded Trade Javier Castellano 10-1
5 Midnight Bourbon Irad Ortiz Jr. 5-1
6 Rombauer Flavien Prat 12-1
7 France Go De Ina Joel Rosario 20-1
8 Unbridled Honor Luis Saez 15-1
9 Risk Taking Jose Ortiz 15-1
10 Concert Tour Mike Smith 2-1



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