Magic Man’s breakdown of the 2021 Preakness Stakes

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It has been a tumultuous two weeks in the world of thoroughbred racing since Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby.

Last Saturday it was learned that the embattled Bob Baffert was accused of administering to Medina Spirit an illegal substance called beta steferesone, which by definition is a skin ailment relief yet there is a hidden steroid in the drug which constitutes it being illegal.

Last Sunday, Baffert held an impromptu press conference to defend himself. My first thoughts were how non-spiritual he sounded saying that “cancel culture” was the reason for the troubles plaguing Baffert. I have heard and seen a lot covering this sport but this one really is out there. This isn’t Baffert’s first drug accusation, after all.

This is yet another dark mark on our sport of horse racing. Escaping the labels of cheaters and drug users is hard to do when these scandals occur. All this in advance of the Preakness which runs on Saturday under what promises to be a beautiful day at Pimlico.

We will not know until after the Preakness whether Medina Spirit might have a shot at the Triple Crown as we await these decision on his Derby result. If the second test comes back positive then he will obviously and rightfully be disqualified.

Now let the Magic Man try to bounce back as I look at this edition of the Preakness. Honestly, this field came up very weak. We still will look for wagering opportunity knocking.

Below is my look at this group running with horse by horse analysis along with selections.

RACE 13 Preakness S. (Grade I) POST TIME – 6:47 PM ET
PP (RACE 13)
Pimlico STAKES
Purse $1,000,000. For Three-Year-Olds. $10,000 to pass the entry box, starters to pay $10,000 additional. Supplemental nominations may be made in accordance with the rules, upon payment of $25,000, 60% of the purse to the winner, 20% to second, 11% to third, 6% to fourth and 3% to fifth. Weight 126 pounds for Colts and Geldings, 123 pounds for Fillies. A replica of the Woodlawn Vase will be presented to the winning owner to remain his or her personal property. One And Three Sixteenth Miles.

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Ram (KY) R Santana, Jr. 126 D W Lukas 30/1
2 Keepmeinmind (KY) D Cohen 126 R Diodoro 15/1
3 Medina Spirit (FL) J R Velazquez 126 B Baffert 9/5
4 Crowded Trade (KY) J Castellano 126 C C Brown 10/1
5 Midnight Bourbon (KY) I Ortiz, Jr. 126 S M Asmussen 5/1
6 Rombauer (KY) F Prat 126 M W McCarthy 12/1
7 France Go de Ina (KY) J Rosario 126 H Mori 20/1
8 Unbridled Honor (KY) L Saez 126 T A Pletcher 15/1
9 Risk Taking (KY) J L Ortiz 126 C C Brown 15/1
10 Concert Tour (KY) M E Smith 126 B Baffert 5/2

Owners: 1 – Christina Baker & William L. Mack ; 2 – Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith & Spendthrift Farm LLC ; 3 – Zedan Racing Stables ; 4 – Klaravich Stables, Inc. ; 5 – Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC ; 6 – John Fradkin & Diane Fradkin ; 7 – Yuji Inaida ; 8 – Whisper Hill Farm, LLC ; 9 – Klaravich Stables, Inc. ; 10 – Gary & Mary West
Breeders: 1 – Michael Edward Connelly; 2 – Southern Equine Stables, LLC; 3 – Gail Rice; 4 – Forging Oaks LLC; 5 – Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC; 6 – John Fradkin & Diane Fradkin; 7 – Betz, Kidder, B & K Canetti & Jim Betz; 8 – Whisper Hill Farm, LLC; 9 – G. Watts Humphrey Jr.; 10 – Gary & Mary West Stables Inc.
Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – American Pharoah – Miner’s Secret , by Mineshaft ; 2 – Laoban – Inclination , by Victory Gallop ; 3 – Protonico – Mongolian Changa , by Brilliant Speed ; 4 – More Than Ready – Maude S , by Jump Start ; 5 – Tiznow – Catch the Moon , by Malibu Moon ; 6 – Twirling Candy – Cashmere , by Cowboy Cal ; 7 – Will Take Charge – Dreamy Blues , by Curlin ; 8 – Honor Code – Silvery Starlet , by Unbridled’s Song ; 9 – Medaglia d’Oro – Run a Risk , by Distorted Humor ; 10 – Street Sense – Purse Strings , by Tapit ;
Sire of Rombauer standing at Lane’s End
Sire of Unbridled Honor standing at Lanes End



Has won 2 in a row but it took him 8 starts to break his maiden. He then followed up with a win against condition allowance foes. Although this Preakness field leaves a lot to be desired, this guy has no chance.


Sometimes when you try to convince yourself you have a top flight horse while the results don’t support it, when do you draw the line and not try to continue to punish everyone involved? What eliminates him for me is the fact he is a deep closer on a track that is not going to help him. The pace would have to completely fall apart and I am not sure it will. Throw him out.

Medina Spirit

There is an old saying in horse racing. If you didn’t go to the wedding why go to the reception? That is meant simply to say in this case that I did not have him anywhere in the Derby so why change now? It is an easy answer. This Preakness field is woeful and you would have to be a complete knucklehead to throw him out. A must use for me in the exotics.

Crowded Trade

Looked like a winner for a few strides in the Wood Memorial in his last but flattened out to be 3rd that day. Gets a big rider switch to Castellano but I wonder if he maybe isn’t a real two-turn horse. This field as mentioned is not especially strong so maybe he could hang in for a piece of it.

Midnight Bourbon

Horrible break cost him a chance to maybe be in the Derby winners circle. I am not saying he would have been a definite winner but it would have been nice to see what he could have done with a clean trip. He will be much more forwardly placed and will have no excuses. One of the main players for me here.


Ran a well-beaten 3rd in the Blue Grass in his most recent out but makes the all-important 3rd start off of the form cycle and makes sense for those who are not afraid to take a stab. He is a value play for any exotics and is one of those I give a big chance to find the board.

France Go de Ina

Adds some sizzle to what projects to be an honest pace but in my opinion he probably will fold tent when the real running starts. Not one I give any chance to so let us move on.

Unbridled Honor

Ran some honest races in the Tampa Bay Derby and the Lexington. Now he gets an interesting rider switch to Luis Saez for this contest. Does not seem like he is fast enough to really make a big impact. One of my fringe contenders at best here.

Risk Taking

What makes this horse interesting is he scratched out of last Saturday’s Peter Pan at Belmont. He was 7-5 to win there and his connections made a confident move to run here. Chad Brown has done this before so before you get too worked up on his running lines, this horse must be going real good or Brown sees the lack of top class depth here. Another for me to consider.

Concert Tour

Was a very short price in the Arkansas Derby and failed. The horses who beat him fell apart in the Derby. No favors were drawn when he drew the 10 post. He probably will see the lead but how much will he use to get there? It would be easy to say well he won’t hit the board but can you make a definitive case to put four horses better than him?

My Selections

1. Risk Taking – Going to take a swing on a price. I cannot ignore the connections confidence to opt out of the Peter Pan for this opportunity. I am going to go with their beliefs.

2. Medina Spirit – For all of the negative headlines concerning this horse as of late, how do you leave him out of any exotics? I won’t be foolish enough to do that.

3. Midnight Bourbon – All he needs to do is get out clean. If he can do that, he should be extremely tough. I wish he was higher than 5-2 as I type this though.

4. Rombauer – Doesn’t have to run that fast as it pertains to speed figures so he’s another to put on your exotics.

And there you have my look at the Preakness. It will be a beautiful day for this great racing spectacle.

I need to hit this exacta box and feel like I have the right combination to break the losing spell. I will be on with Ken Trahan and Ed Daniels on the Three Tailgaters show on NASH ICON 106.1 in New Orleans at 11:40 looking to deliver the goods to my friend Ed Daniels. Preceding that, I will be on with Johnny Marchese and Mike Garcia on Bayou State Sports Saturday at 8 a.m.

I will have a full recap of the Preakness later on Saturday night so stay tuned for that. As always may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

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George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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