“It just goes to show you small players can be successful as well,” said an emotional McCarthy, a former assistant to newly-minted Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, after striking gold with his first starter in a Triple Crown race.
“There is so much history behind these races,” said Prat, who was born in France. “To win one is amazing.”
The Fradkin’s initially retained Rombauer, a bay son of Twirling Candy, because his dam, Cashmere, had a history of producing precocious babies. They figured his value would only increase. Sure enough, Rombauer captured his debut on July 25 at Del Mar.
They anticipated strong offers for the juvenile after that and were prepared to cash out; no significant offers came.
With each day, Rombauer impressed McCarthy more and more. Soon, they were not so ready to sell. The April 7 foal earned $150,500 in a 2-year-old campaign that closed with a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The feel-good triumph came along at a perfect time. The two-week interval between the Derby and Preakness, normally an exciting period filled with anticipation, brought hard times for racing. Surprising Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a trace amount of the corticosteroid betamethasone, leading Churchill Downs officials to immediately suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert last Sunday and to say that his horse would be disqualified if the split sample that Baffert requested supported the initial finding.
That would cost Baffert a record seventh Derby triumph while Brad Cox, trainer of runner-up Mandaloun, would become the first Louisville native to saddle a Derby victor. In a testament to the rigid oversight of the nation’s premier event, only one positive test ever prompted a disqualification in the 147-year history of the run for the roses. That involved Dancer’s Image in 1968.
Baffert initially denied any knowledge of how Medina Spirit might have tested positive. The next day, though, he said he realized that they had used an anti-fungal ointment that contains betamethasone to treat dermatitis on the horse’s hind end.
The draw for Preakness post positions was delayed one day until Tuesday. Baffert agreed to three rounds of pre-race testing in order to be able to enter Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown and Beautiful Gift in the George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, a significant race for 3-year-old fillies. Samples drawn on May 6 and May 10 were screened by Industrial Laboratories in Colorado. A third sample, taken on May 11, was sent to the University of California at Davis Maddy Laboratory. All samples tested clean.
In addition, veterinary care of every starter was closely monitored and around-the-clock security was provided to ensure the integrity of the tradition-rich race.