Record Betting Reported for Preakness, Despite Controversy Over Medina Spirit

Posted on: May 16, 2021, 10:27h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2021, 04:25h.

Maybe controversy is a good thing for horse racing – at least from the betting perspective. According to race chart information, Saturday’s Preakness Day 14-race card generated more than $113.4 million in bets, with the Preakness Stakes attracting nearly $68.7 million in wagers.

Preakness results
Rombauer, with jockey Flavien Prat aboard, won the 146th running of the Preakness Stakes Saturday at Pimlico race Course in Baltimore. Despite the controversy associated with Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, the track reported record betting handles for both the day and the race itself. (Image: 1/ST Racing)

Both figures are records, and they come less than a week after trainer Bob Baffert revealed that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a drug test.

Despite days of reports that placed racing under a harsh public eye, the whole card easily broke the record set two years ago, when nearly $100 million was wagered on races at the Baltimore track. 

That Preakness, too, was coming off a controversial Derby, which featured the disqualification of Maximum Security. That’s after stewards ruled he interfered with other horses before crossing the wire first. The record handle happened even though neither Maximum Security nor promoted winner Country House entered the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

The previous betting record for the Preakness itself came in 2018, when bettors wagered slightly less than $62 million on the race.

Saturday capped a record-breaking weekend for the track. On Friday, the historic track announced the 14-race card, highlighted by the Black-Eyed Susan, generated a handle of $27.7 million, crushing the previous mark of $21.3 million, also set two years ago.

Longshot Rombauer Beats Medina Spirit in Preakness

As for the Preakness itself, Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, another Baffert horse in the race, cleared pre-race drug tests.  Those were part of an agreement between the trainer and the Maryland Jockey Club that allowed them to run Saturday.

However, Medina Spirit could not replicate his performance from two weeks ago. Rombauer, an 11-1 longshot, caught fire down the stretch to blow past the Derby winner and Midnight Bourbon to win the race by three lengths.

Rombauer paid $25.60 to win, $10 to place, and $5.20 to show. Midnight Bourbon, the 3-1 second-choice, paid $4.60 and $3. Medina Spirit, who went off as the 2-1 favorite, paid $2.80.

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Baffert

The controversy surrounding Medina Spirit’s failed drug test led animal-welfare group PETA to launch a campaign for bettors. They were requested to hold on to their tickets after the Preakness in case a horse that finished in the money failed a post-race drug test.

The group said bettors could take horsemen who field doped horses to court and sue for damages. Last August, PETA announced a harness racing bettor reached a $20,000 settlement  with a trainer and owner of a horse that won a race but failed a subsequent drug test.

Already there have been a couple of cases filed regarding the Kentucky Derby.

Bettors filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in California on Thursday by people who bet on Mandaloun, the horse that finished second in the Derby. Michael E. Beychok said he spent $966 on betting tickets and lost out on a payday between $10,000 and $100,000.

Justin Wunderler, another plaintiff, said Medina Spirit’s victory cost him at least $40,000 off the $2,000 in wagers he had.

Among the judgements the plaintiffs seek include an order imposing “reasonable restrictions” on Baffert and Medina Spirit’s owners’ future activities in horse racing.

Despite the success Tretter had in his case, the plaintiffs’ chances of winning are seemingly longer than Rombauer’s Saturday.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s (KHRC) investigation into Medina Spirit is still ongoing. A split sample of the specimen taken after the Derby is being analyzed. If it confirms the first test’s results, then it could lead to the KHRC stripping the colt of his win and his connections of the $1.8 million in prize money.

It would not change any of the wagers. In horse racing and other sports, sportsbooks and racebooks pay bets based on the results deemed official after the race concludes.