BALTIMORE – Preakness champion Rombauer's trainer, Michael McCarthy, lobbied hard to get the bay colt entered into the Kentucky Derby.
The horse's owners, Diane and John Fradkin, just didn't think that was the right move. Instead, they wanted to point to the second leg of the Triple Crown. No one will ever know what might have happened if Rombauer had been allowed to go to Churchill Downs.
At Pimlico on Saturday, the 11-1 shot showed up right on time. Rombauer came from behind to win the Preakness with a stirring stretch run that carried him past front-runners Midnight Bourbon and Medina Spirit — the Bob Baffert-trained horse who tested positive for a steroid after winning the Kentucky Derby.
“Just goes to show you that small players in the game can be successful, as well," said McCarthy, his voice choked with emotion.
This was his first Triple Crown entry, let alone a winner. Same for the Fradkins, who generally sell the horses they breed rather than race them.
And it was the first time crossing the wire first aboard a Triple Crown horse for French jockey Flavien Prat — although he wound up as the Kentucky Derby winner in 2019 after arriving second with long-shot Country House behind Maximum Security, who was disqualified.
Said Prat about this first-place result: "Of course it’s a lot different.”
Rombauer covered the 1 3/16th-mile track on a partly cloudy evening in 1 minute, 53.62 seconds to arrive 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Midnight Bourbon, who went off with 3-1 odds. Rombauer paid $25.60 to win.