Ocala graduate Rombauer wins Preakness
The colt pulled off an upset win, beating Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.
Medina Spirit, bred in Marion County by Gail Rice, set the pace in Saturday’s race but faded late to finish third.
Rombauer scored a 3 ½-length decision over Midnight Bourbon while running the 1 3/16-mile distance in 1:53.62.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Rombauer raced between horses in sixth-place in the 10-horse field that was led by Medina Spirit along the front stretch and around the first turn. The pacesetting 2-1 favorite, who set fractions of 23.77 and 46.93 seconds for the first half-mile, was closely shadowed to his outside by Midnight Bourbon along the backstretch and into the far turn. Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon showed the way into the stretch as Rombauer began to launch a strong bid on the final turn. Midnight Bourbon edged past the pacesetter in mid-stretch, but Rombauer loomed boldly on the far outside and continued on to register a decisive victory.
Rombauer, owned by John and Diane Fradkin, received his early training at Eddie Woods Stables in Ocala.
Woods admits Rombauer didn’t cut a Triple Crown figure early on.
“I thought this horse would win some races, but not Triple Crown,” Woods said. “We thought he’d be a turf horse because of the Twirling Candy side. But you don’t know until you get them on the field.”
For Woods, it is the second time one of his graduates won the Preakness. In 2008, Big Brown won the race. He also won the Kentucky Derby that year.
The Preakness was Rombauer’s first win over a dirt track. His first career win came on grass and his second victory was on a synthetic surface track.
“You had a $35,000 horse win the Kentucky Derby and Rombauer win the Preakness. It’s one of those years,” he said. “That’s why we run them in the afternoons.”
Medina Spirit, who initially sold for $1,000 as a yearling at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales auction, sold again at OBS as a 2-year-old for $35,000. The Kentucky Derby winner is facing a possible disqualification after a failed drug test after the Derby. A final decision is pending.
The Fradkins planned to sell Rombauer as a 2-year-old at the OBS April auction last year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused demand for race horses, along with prices, to drop. They decided to race him themselves.
“I’m so proud of this horse, everybody involved. It means a lot to be here and participate on a day like this. I’m happy for the Fradkins. It just goes to show you that small players in the game can be successful, as well. Hats off to everybody,” said Michael McCarthy, Rombauer’s trainer.
After the race McCarthy said they hope to run Rombauer in the June 5 Belmont Stakes. the third jewel of the Triple Crown, at Belmont Park.