Horse Racing Under Scrutiny during 2023 Triple Crown Season

By US Racing Team

The Triple Crown season should be the best of times in horse racing. This year, it’s hard to think of worse times.

Yes, Mage was a popular winner of the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 6. And, yes, he’s ready for the Preakness (G1) on Saturday (May 20), with a victory setting up a Triple Crown attempt at the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10.

But the state of racing appears to have been in chaos these past few weeks: Seven horse deaths at Churchill Downs in a 10-day period; big-name trainer suspensions, and numerous scratches before the Derby, including Forte, who would have been the betting favorite, hours before the race.

Subsequently, Saffie Joseph, Jr., who had two horses die mysteriously, was suspended indefinitely by Churchill Downs, and his Derby entry Lord Miles was scratched. After the Derby, Forte’s Hall of Fame trainer was suspended for 10 days and fined when it was announced that Forte positive for the regulated painkiller meloxicam and was disqualified from his win in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga back on Sept. 5.

And now it’s Preakness week. Forte is ineligible for the race since he’s on a 14-day vet’s list; only eight horses are entered (one of the smallest fields in decades); Mage is the only Derby runner in the race (first time in over 50 years that has occurred); and news from Oaklawn Park has the track’s leading trainer, Robertino Diodoro, slapped with a 30-day suspension and $1,000 fine from the Arkansas Racing Commission for a horse that raced with an excessive level of total carbon dioxide in its blood.

National Treasure, Pimlico photo

And then, of course, there’s the expiring Bob Baffert ban. The six-time Derby winner and seven-time Preakness winner sends out National Treasure in the Preakness, his first Triple Crown race since the 2021 Preakness.

After Baffert’s Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Derby, he was disqualified months later for a race-day medication violation. And Baffert was suspended for two years from competing at Churchill Downs-owned racetracks.

By the end of the month, racing adopts a new set of rules and regulations to monitor key issues more closely in the sport – equine safety tops the list. The Horseracing Safety and Integrity Act’s anti-doping and medication rules were approved in March by the Federal Trade Commission and take effect on May 22.

Here’s to hoping for the best.



2023 Preakness Stakes Post Positions and Odds

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 National Treasure 4-1 John Velazquez Steven M. Asmussen
2 Chase The Chaos 50-1 Sheldon Russell Ed Moger Jr.
3 Mage 8-5 Javier Castellano Gustavo Delgado
4 Coffeewithchris 20-1 Jaime Rodriguez John E. Salzman Jr.
5 Red Route One 10-1 Joel Rosario Steven M. Asmussen
6 Perform 15-1 Feargal Lynch Claude R. McGaughey III
7 Blazing Sevens 6-1 Irad Ortiz Jr. Chad C. Brown
8 First Mission 5-2 Luis Saez Brad H. Cox
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