This week’s conversation is about how Medina Spirit ran a sensational race in the Kentucky Derby, and the story from horse rags to the rich is a kind of comfort that the world needs during cruel and difficult times. I praise it as a story.
Instead, the discussion is about picograms.
For now, Medina Spirit is the winner of the Kentucky Derby after crossing the line ahead of everyone else at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. After the race, drug tests showed that Colt’s system contained a small amount of the steroid betamethasone (21 picograms per milliliter of blood, to be exact).
The implications for bettors today are: Absolutely no one knows if Medina Spirit’s past performances (data that people look up over and over again before throwing cash to bet on Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico) were in equal competition. Not with other horses in those races.
The race is always claps. This preakness is one more than usual.
On paper, the Medina Spirit should be enough to get close enough to the lead early in the Saturday race, which once appeared as a favorite. He was installed as a top 9-5 choice on the morning line by odds makers before slipping behind Midnight Bourbon in a bet until Friday afternoon. If the Medina Spirit approaches the lead at the start, it probably means that a horse that finishes second or lower in any of his six life races will be a significant factor in stretching.
The thing is that no one knows anymore. The latest doping turmoil of Medina Spirit’s embarrassed Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will almost certainly have an equestrian player wondering how good a horse is.
Smart play is looking elsewhere and has options.
Start with the other two horses brought back for Preakness from the Kentucky Derby. Midnight Bourbon (6th after leaving at 13-1) and Keepmine Mind (7th at 49-1). The simple fact that they are both in Pimlico for this means that their connection not only comes from the sound of the derby, but also believes that even a short break will value a great opportunity here. I will. Those are good signs.
Next, look at those who are probably targeted by Preakness: lightly competitive and crowded trade (10-1 morning line), Ronbauer (12-1), Unbridled Honor (15-1), risk Take (15-1) and concert tour (5-2). Concert tours like the Medina Spirit come out of Baffert’s barn. I have a lot of things I like. Especially Mike Smith was added on board, but he could run out of speed and escape from the outer 10th post.
France’s Gode Ina (20-1 Morning Line) has a little-known Japanese shipper. A horse that is often overlooked until he thinks about why he was sent to Pimlico, he is ready to compete if his brain has any further premonitions.
And there is probably a pleasant story. Legendary D. Wayne Lukas sends Ram (30-1 Morning Line) to the field. Conversely, Lamb’s father is American Pharoah, and the horse has won the start in a row. On the downside, he needed nine attempts to defeat the maiden and was beaten a total of 78 times in these eight defeats to open his career. It should be noted that someone clearly likes him, as Ram was down to 12-1 with a bet until Friday afternoon.
Everything is equal on paper, and the five horses that jump off the page and look like true competitors are Medina Spirit, Crowded Trade, Midnight Bourbon, Risk Take, and Concert Tour.
Midnight Bourbon (now likely Preakness’ favorite) should have approached Kentucky Derby’s early lead. It didn’t happen and his chances basically evaporated on the spot. If it’s fixed on Saturday, he ends up as something to win. Recent training in crowded trades makes him look like a real threat, risk-taking may scare some bettors after his gloomy show at Wood Memorial last month, and concerts. The tour has some super performances in his resume, but the numbers don’t suggest he’s trending the right way.
It takes a cruelly bad effort to keep the medina spirit out of the mix. The only question is whether he is genuine.
Pick: Midnight Bourbon, Medina Spirit, and finally the Flying Keepmine Mind over a crowded trade fill the Superfector.
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Choosing Medinas Spirit in Preakness is an unstable play
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