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#pounditWednesday, October 5, 2022

Horse Racing

Owner Mike Repole, Trainer Todd Pletcher have dream race at Belmont Stakes

Todd Pletcher smiling

Mar 31, 2018; Hallandale Beach, FL, USA; Trainer Todd Pletcher stands in the winners circle after a race during Florida Derby day at Gufstream Park. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The owner/trainer team of Mike Repole and Todd Pletcher entered two horses in Saturday’s eight-horse field at the 154th Belmont Stakes, and they could not have had a better finish.

Repole and Pletcher’s horses finished first and second, with Mo Donegal winning and Nest placing in the race.

Mo Donegal, a 5-2 favorite coming into the race, beat out Nest to win the race. Nest, who entered the race with 8-1 odds, came up just short of becoming only the third Filly ever to win the Belmont Stakes.

Mo Donegal trailed We the People heading into the final stretch, but found a second gear and wound up charging ahead for a comfortable victory. We the People ended up finishing in fourth place.

Here is video of the race:

Pletcher told FOX Sports’ Maggie Wolfendale after the race that he felt confident that Mo Donegal would run well.

“The one thing we felt confident in is he’d get the trip,” Pletcher said. “And if Irad [Ortiz Jr.] could just ride him patiently enough, I thought that he had the potential to have the best last quarter.”

This was Pletcher’s fourth win at the Belmont Stakes. The Hall of Fame trainer most recently won the event with Tapwrit in 2017. In 2013, he won with Palace Malice, and before that with Rags to Riches in 2007. He is now tied for the fifth-most wins at the Belmont Stakes.

Rich Strike, the surprise winner of May’s Kentucky Derby, finished in sixth place.

Mike Leach uses unlikely comparison to call for expanded College Football Playoff

Mike Leach on the sidelines

Oct 2, 2021; College Station, Texas, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach argues a call while playing against the Texas A&M Aggies in the third quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leach is an advocate for expanding the College Football Playoff, and he will cite any example he can find to back up his position. That includes upset Kentucky Derby winners, apparently.

Rich Strike came in as an 80:1 longshot in Saturday’s race, only to pull off a stunning victory over the rest of the field. Leach took notice of that, and the Mississippi State coach decided that it warranted comparison to college football underdogs that deserved a shot in the playoff.

Leach has a point on sentiment, but the Kentucky Derby field was missing a clear heavy favorite. In other words, Rich Strike didn’t have to overcome the likes of Alabama or Georgia here.

Still, Leach will draw attention to his cause with tweets like this. The guy is just great online, and we might as well embrace that.

Epicenter trainer throws shade at Rich Strike after Kentucky Derby

Steve Asmussen talking

No horse was more stunned by Rich Strike’s win at the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday than Epicenter.

Epicenter was the favorite to win the race and seemed to have it locked down as the horses headed down the stretch at Churchill Downs. But Rich Strike came out of nowhere to pass Epicenter and Zandon to claim the win.

Rich Strike was only added to the field on Friday morning and was an 80:1 underdog, yet the colt won the race.

Epicenter’s trainer Steve Asmussen expressed disdain for Rich Strike after the race. He thought Epicenter was going to win but the horse was run down by a “claimer.”

That seems like some shade towards Rich Strike.

Rich Strike was claimed by Rick Dawson’s RED TR-Racing in a $30,000 maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs last year. Referring to the horse as a “claimer” or “ex-claimer” rather than by name shows how insulted they feel that their thoroughbred lost to Rich Strike.

Epicenter placed in the race, leaving Asmussen absolutely stunned.

Asmussen and those involved with Epicenter won’t get over this race for a long time. They probably feel similarly to this man. What especially stings is that Asmussen is still seeking his first Kentucky Derby win and came so close.

Video: Rich Strike went after his lead pony after race

Rich Strike goes after a pony

Rich Strike ran one heck of a race to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, and the colt was all charged up afterwards.

Rich Strike was an 80:1 longshot entering the race after just entering the field on Friday due to another horse scratching. He came out nowhere with a hard charge on the inside to win the race, beating Epicenter down the stretch.

After the race, Rich Strike was full of adrenaline. He started going crazy on the lead pony.

The handler of the other horse even had to punch Rich Strike to keep him away.

Who knows what was going through Rich Strike’s head? That colt sure is a spirited beast. What a race.

Video: Rich Strike wins Kentucky Derby in stunner as 80:1 longshot

Rich Strike at the finish line

Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday in one of the biggest upsets in the race’s history.

Rich Strike was an 80:1 longshot entering the race. He was only added to the field on Friday morning after Ethereal Road scratched.

Rich Strike started in the 20th post and was not intimidated by the other horses in the field. Instead, he saw favorite Epicenter in the middle and chased him down, pulling ahead just before the finish line.

Rich Strike pretty much came out of nowhere to win the race. The video is incredible.

Rich Strike went from being claimed last year for $30,000 to winning the Kentucky Derby months later. That’s what sports and competition are all about.

Kentucky Derby-winning horse Medina Spirit dies suddenly

Bob Baffert

The horse that won the Kentucky Derby earlier this year amid a banned substance controversy has died.

According to a story from Paulick Report, Medina Spirit collapsed and died after a workout at Santa Anita Park in California on Monday morning. The cause of death is unknown but will be investigated. The horse was 3 years old.

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby on May 1 and later tested positive for an illegal substance. Trainer Bob Baffert, who has a history of horses testing positive for banned substances, was suspended from Churchill Downs. Baffert, one of the most successful horse trainers of all time, claimed the positive test for Medina Spirit was accidental.

After an investigation that lasted several months, it was ruled on Friday that the positive test was the result of an ointment, not an injection.

Medina Spirit had raced several times since the Kentucky Derby, including a third place finish at the Preakness Stakes. Baffert was widely mocked for some of the excuses he made after his horse’s positive test.

Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie had great head-to-head finish at Belmont

Essential Quality Hot Rod Charlie

Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie turned Saturday’s Belmont Stakes into a match race that culminated in a great finish.

Hot Rod Charlie led for the first mile of the race. Essential Quality, who was the favorite, hung close to Hot Rod Charlie. But as they turned the final corner towards the home stretch, Essential Quality started to kick it into high gear.

It was just the two horses down the final stretch battling to see who would win. The final stretch was thrilling:

The 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes went to Essential Quality, who is trained by Brad Cox. No Bob Baffert-trained horses were involved in the race, as Baffert was banned by the New York Racing Association.

Over 11,000 fans attended the race in New York. This marked the first Triple Crown win for Cox and jockey Luis Saez.

Bob Baffert suspended from entering horses at Belmont

Bob Baffert

Medina Spirit’s Triple Crown bid fell short in his loss at the Preakness. That’s just as well, as the horse won’t be allowed at Belmont, nor will any others trained by Bob Baffert.

Baffert, who is under fire amid allegations of his horses receiving illegal substances, has been temporarily suspended by the New York Racing Association. That means that no horses trained by Baffert will be allowed into the Belmont field.

The NYRA joins Churchill Downs in issuing a temporary suspension while an investigation takes place.

Baffert, regarded as the greatest and most successful trainer of all time, has been under increasing pressure ever since Medina Spirit tested positive for a banned substance following the Kentucky Derby win. Baffert has claimed this was accidental, though not before some widely-mocked attempts to defend himself and his reputation.

The Belmont Stakes, representing the third leg of the Triple Crown, are set to take place on June 5.

Rombauer owners planned to sell horse and now he is Preakness winner

Rombauer

Rombauer on Saturday won the 146th running of the Preakness Stakes in an upset, and the horse has a cool backstory.

Rombauer, which entered the race with 11:1 odds, passed by Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit to win the race at Pimlico Race Course. Medina Spirit finished third, while Midnight Bourbon was second.

So what’s the deal with Rombauer? His owners, Diane and John Fradkin, planned to sell him. They view themselves as “small-time, commercial breeders” who sell most of their horses.

The Fradkins were planning on selling Rombauer last year, but the pandemic threw things off.

The Fradkins ended up racing Rombauer instead, with the hope they would be able to sell him later. He won at Del Mar, but the (later proved inaccurate) time was regarded as unimpressive. That made a sale more difficult. They continued to race him, and he ended up improbably winning the Preakness. He has won three times in seven starts.

The entire story via Blood Horse is a good read.

Medina Spirit cleared to race in Preakness amid Kentucky Derby controversy

Bob Baffert

While the results of the Kentucky Derby remain a matter of dispute, the Preakness will permit trainer Bob Baffert’s horses to run in Saturday’s event.

The Maryland Jockey Club announced Friday that Baffert’s horses, Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, will both be allowed to run Saturday’s race after three rounds of blood samples came back clear.

Regardless of their clearance, both horses are likely to be overshadowed by controversy. Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win is in jeopardy after the horse tested positive for an illegal drug, and Baffert ultimately admitted that the horse was treated with a banned substance, though he says it was accidental.

Combine that with previous allegations about Baffert-trained horses, and Saturday’s race will be viewed with suspicion if either horse does well.

Despite the controversy, Medina Spirit is still listed as the 9/5 favorite for the Preakness.