(Rombauer / Photos by Holly M. Smith)
Here’s a few opinions, observations and outlooks following the G1 Preakness Stakes, which was held at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday and won in part by both the courageous Midnight Bourbon, and, eventually, by the resilient Rombauer.
It was a magnificent race, with an even better outcome and vindication for those of us that love the sport for the sport; and love the horse for the horse.
Kudos to trainer Michael McCarthy and his 3YO colt Rombauer, who showed up just in the nick of time to save the day and save an industry that needed a man and a horse in white hats and not dark sunglasses or darker intentions. Maybe, just maybe, McCarthy can convince the connections to change their pink silks to the pure white color of the helmet cover to reflect what they mean and stand for in today’s game.
It was a magnificent race, with an even better outcome and “just rewards” for those that seemingly don’t love OUR game enough to protect its’ integrity at all costs and against all odds; who don’t love the horse enough to do what is right by them and for them.
You know of whom I speak, or, in this case, write. As we all wait so patiently for the split sample test to appear and either validate the first drug test or validate the most amazing tales of woe of the most unlucky horse trainer in the history of horse trainers.
My granddaddy used to say — in rather terse terms and in his farming vocabulary — that you normally get what you sow. You sow bad seeds, you will get a bad crop. You sow bad seeds on bad land, you will get a bad crop. You sow bad karma?
Here’s our thoughts:
Sick and Tired of Baffert’s Excuses? We All Should Be, By Now:
Are you sick and tired of horse trainer Bob Baffert by now?
Well, if you are not, then you are a better person than I. You have a level of forgiveness and forgetfulness that I simply don’t possess. You are more tolerant of others, perhaps.
But no matter how you feel about the man, certainly you have to be getting a bit of an ass rash from all the damn excuses that this man and his lawyer seem to toss at every problem. (Anybody got some salve that I can apply?)
Do they truly believe these stories that are spinning out of the mouth of Baffert or press releases of his attorney?
Do they truly believe that we will believe these stories?
Do they truly believe that the authorities will believe any more stories?
Here’s the way I look at his latest ugly, despicable, disgusting and positive drug test following this year’s Kentucky Derby which was won by Baffert’s Medina Spirit — who is still somehow, some way in his lackadaisical, if not outright corrupt hands. We shall wait on the split sample, after all, for further proof of validation or vindication.
First of all, let’s do some analogies:
Analogy #1: Let’s just say, for argument sakes, that you don’t believe that law enforcement has the right to put the speed limit in a school zone at 25 miles per hour. And, because you don’t believe that the limit is fair and equitable to you and your “right” to go whatever speed you deem appropriate, you speed through the zone, let’s say at 75 miles per hour. You are happy as a lark.
After all, that silly damn law only applies to the others. Not you.
After all, you have the most fancy cars in town and they go fast.
After all, they are ready to name the damn street after you.
Until one day — let’s say on the biggest School Day of the Year — you get caught speeding. Three times the limit.
What do you say to the Judge when you are called into court?
The speed limit is too low, Judge?
You didn’t know you were driving so fast, Judge?
It’s not your fault, Judge, somebody must have messed with the speedometer? Must be the mechanics fault?
Give me a break, Judge. After all, it’s only the fifth or sixth time I have got caught speeding in the last couple of years, Judge?
Don’t you think the Judge should just drop the charges and let you keep your driver’s license?
Don’t think so, pal. You don’t get to make the rules; set the standards; put in the limits and then break them, all at the same time. Driver’s licenses are issued as a privilege. You don’t have a right.
And, if you break the law?
You lose the privilege.
Analogy #2: Let’s just say, for argument sakes, that you don’t believe that law enforcement has the right to put legal limits on what constitutes driving under the influence. Let’s just say, for argument sakes, that you don’t believe that .08 constitutes “under the influence.” And, because you don’t think that the limit is fair and equitable to you, you decide to drive your vehicle over the statutory limits and at whatever level of intoxication that you deem appropriate. Let’s say, three times the limits. You are happy as a lark.
After all, that silly damn law only applies to the others. Not you. After all, you are best friends with the best winemaker in the country; and you know the master distiller by name; and you are truly what makes Milwaukee famous.
Until one day — let’s say the biggest festival in town — you get caught driving while intoxicated and impaired. Three times the limit.
What do you say to this Judge? After all, it’s only your fifth or sixth time for getting caught in the last couple of years.
What do you think the Judge is going to do to you? And, your license?
Got an opinion?
If you don’t have an opinion, then you should probably develop one like:
Are you frigging kidding me. You will never drive again. Period.
In my opinion, if the split sample comes back positive, too, then this man does not DESERVE a license.
In my opinion, if the split sample comes back positive, too, until this man can demonstrate that he is no longer willing and able to break the limits and the laws that currently exist to ensure a fair and level playing field in our sport for EVERYONE, then this man MUST lose his license.
In my opinion, if the split sample comes back positive, too, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission SHALL revoke his license. Immediately. And, furthermore, deny him access to any grounds that is under the jurisprudence of the regulatory body.
The ability to hold a license issued by the KHRC is a privilege. It is not a right. And, in my humble opinion, one must prove every single day that they deserve this privilege.
That means conducting your business professionally and above reproach.
That means holding yourself and your staff fully accountable for obeying and abiding by all the rules and regulations as they exist today. On the books. In writing. Not as you want or opine them to be.
That means addressing and fixing any previous mistakes made, and assuring all authorities that future errors will not be tolerated or permitted.
That means that every horse under your care and entered into a race in your name meets All the requirements and can pass all the tests.
If the split sample comes back positive, too, then…
Bob Baffert — and his apparent reckless, and consistent pattern of behavior over the past couple of years — has proven to be less than deserving; less than professional; less than accountable; less than law abiding.
If the split sample comes back positive, too, then…
He now seems less than honorable.
And, until such time that he can prove that he is all those things once again, or, perhaps, for the first time?
Then the Kentucky Racing Commission should — in my opinion — take his license and hold it in abeyance. Until such time that he proves worthy and reliable enough to hold it and understand the importance of its’ credibility. Until such time he truly appreciates the access it gives him to OUR sport.
After all, the Kentucky Derby is this sport’s Holy Grail.
After all, the Kentucky Derby means billions — billions to this Commonwealth of Kentucky; to this City of Louisville; to this Churchill Downs. It is our heritage. It is in our blood. It is ours.
After all, the Kentucky Derby is our sacred ground.
And, in this case, if the split sample comes back positive, too, it is Bob Baffert pissing on all over it and us.
Cannot be tolerated.
Thank You NYRA:
The New York Racing Association took a stand on Monday. The regulatory body that oversees live horse racing at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga temporarily suspended the license of Bob Baffert until such time that the matter in Kentucky is adequately explained or adjudicated.
NYRA spokespersons said that the organization expects to make a final determination regarding the length and terms of Mr. Baffert’s suspension based on information revealed during the course of the ongoing investigation in Kentucky, such as the post-Kentucky Derby test results of Medina Spirit.
In making the decision, the Board released this statement:
“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
Amen. Amen. Amen.
There is a God (and a regulatory body with credibility) after all.
There are rules in place, and, now, penalties to those that either ignore by lack of institutional oversight or knowingly violate.
The sport deserves no less. The bettors deserve no less. The fans deserve no less.
In addition, NYRA also stated that no track under its’ jurisdiction and the temporary suspension is in effect, would accept entries or provide stall space to any individual employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables.
Now, we are talking.
Thank You Midnight Bourbon & Rombauer:
Thanks be to the talent of Midnight Bourbon and the instructions of trainer Steve Asmussen for Saturday’s G1 Preakness Stakes. Due to both, the horse was ready and able to go right to the front and challenge the talent and fortitude of Medina Spirit in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
We got to see a real horse race develop. And, we got to see what the two horses were made of and how much heart each possesses.
Midnight Bourbon was up to the task, although he was not able to win. He had the guts to hold onto second, while the “supposed” Kentucky Derby winner faded to a distant third.
And, Midnight Bourbon truly was one of the mitigating factors and formidable reasons that Rombauer was able to rally from off the pace and win.
But it was Rombauer’s day, to be sure. The winner of the El Camino Real Derby and the third-place finisher in this year’s G2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland was up to the ultimate task.
He was fresh.
He was determined.
He was best.
The industry thanks you. The sport thanks you.
Bob Baffert: Where Were Your Guts?
Baffert was gutsy enough to go on a round of TV shows following this year’s Kentucky Derby and the news of the positive test result for his winning runner — Medina Spirit. He had reasons to deny, deny, deny and defend, defend, defend and deflect, deflect, deflect.
Dan Patrick Show. Check.
Fox News. Check.
Anyone holding a microphone and would spend 10 minutes to listen. Check.
We got this excuse. That excuse. This explanation. That explanation.
And, we were told to wait for the split sample to come back.
We are still waiting for the second test to show up.
And, we are still waiting for Baffert to show up.
Instead of going to the Preakness Stakes, he sent Assistant Trainer Jimmy Barnes to Baltimore along with his steeds. He said he didn’t want to be a distraction.
Are you kidding me? Seriously?
More accurately, Baffert must have decided that he didn’t want to be questioned unless he could control the narrative. He chose to dodge the media now. He chose to duck the press now. He chose to avoid the roundhouse blows and the jabs. He stole something else from Louisville and that is Muhammad Ali’s most famous slogan:
“Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” routine.
Thus, he now earns my best nickname of the day:
Bob & Weave.
Pimlico & Stronach: Where Were Your Guts?
Never mind. Rhetorical in nature.
These people speak of integrity.
But, seemingly, every time it is time to display any?
They prove once again that they simply don’t have any.
When you allowed Baffert and his horses access to your grounds and the entry box? You demonstrated once again.