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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL — In a total of 15 minutes, 10 three-year-olds were entered in the 146th Preakness Stakes including two Bob Baffert trainees, disputed Kentucky Derby-winning Medina Spirit, and beaten Arkansas Derby favorite, Concert Tour, regarded by many as the superior of the two horses.

The post position draw was followed by an uncomfortably brief question-and-answer period with the live media in attendance.

Of course, the second jewel of the 2021 Triple Crown is more than just about the running of a horse race. Saturday’s event is viewed more as a microcosm of what has been troubling horse racing as a sport in consideration of its past, present and future; the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The post draw appeared on a Facebook-YouTube podcast in front of a live press audience and news media from around the world via the Internet.

The entire event–the pulling of the pills and the question and answer period that followed–was completed in approximately a quarter of an hour and no one who appeared on camera wore a happy face.

Following the pill-pull, Aidan Butler, President/CEO of 1ST Racing for The Stronach Group, welcomed media and introduced Alan Rifkin, Managing Partner of RWL, the law firm representing The Stronach Group, and Dionne Benson, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer for TSG.

With that, Butler exited stage left.

Mr Rifkin stood before the microphone for about two minutes stating, twice, that the arrangement made with trainer Bob Baffert’s legal team was to help ensure the integrity of the sport, but also that “there must be respect for the process,” referring to the parameters of an agreement reached with Mr. Baffert’s legal team.

When asked about the nature of Preakness pre-race testing designed to ensure that there are no lingering trace amounts of betamethasone remaining in the horse Medina Spirit, discovered by Churchill Downs in Kentucky Derby post-race testing, he deferred and turned the microphone over to Ms. Benson.

“We have three time points to determine how betamethasone gets through the horse,” said the respected veterinarian. “These tests will insure that we will know before the race…

“The tests were sent off to two accredited labs today and we will know the results by Friday… There will be no split samples and the test results will stand. There are no allowable levels for betamethasone.”

And with that, host Acacia Courtney thanked the media for their attendance and support of the 146th Preakness Stakes.

The field with early line odds for Preakness 146, listed in post position order:

1- RAM D Wayne Lukas 30-1

2-KEEPMEINMIND Robertino Diodoro 15-1

3-MEDINA SPIRIT Bob Baffert 9-5

4-CROWDED TRADE Chad Brown 10-1

5-MIDNIGHT BOURBON Steve Asmussen 5-1

6-ROMBAUER Michael McCarthy 12-1

7-FRANCE GO DE INA Hideyuki Mori 20-1

8-UNBRIDLED HONOR Todd Pletcher 15-1

9-RISK TAKING Chad Brown 15-1

10-CONCERT TOUR Bob Baffert 5-2

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