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Horse Racing

Essential Quality (2), with jockey Luis Saez up, crosses the finish line to win the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 5, 2021, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) **FILE**

Essential Quality probably tops in Triple Crown gray area

- Associated Press

More than five weeks since the Kentucky Derby and with the Belmont Stakes over, the Triple Crown season is still muddled in uncertainty. Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit could be disqualified from the Derby, making Belmont winner Essential Quality probably the best horse in what was a gray area of a Triple Crown season.

Trainer Bob Baffert hands the winner's trophy to jockey John Velazquez after they victory with Medina Spirit in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) **FILE**

Medina Spirit heads to Preakness Stakes, minus trainer Bob Baffert

- Associated Press

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is headed to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes while trainer Bob Baffert said Monday that he won’t attend the race to avoid being a distraction in the wake of scrutiny following the colt’s failed postrace drug test.

In this March 26, 2020, file photo, tractors groom the racing surface at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Pimlico, which opened in 1870, is set to be rebuilt over the next two-plus years. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) **FILE**

Optimism for Pimlico Race Course’s future is renewed with looming rebuild

- Associated Press

There’s a renewed sense of long-term optimism about the home of the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. After years of uncertainty during which the building continued to deteriorate, the owners of the track and government officials reached an agreement to rebuild Pimlico and keep the Preakness in Baltimore.

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John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit leads Florent Geroux on Mandaloun and Flavien Prat riding Hot Rod Charlie to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) **FILE**

Kentucky Derby bounces back, ratings up over last year

- The Washington Times

The Kentucky Derby became the third-most watched, non-football event of the year -- drawing 14.37 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch. The horse race saw a 48% ratings increase from last year, when the event averaged a record-low 9.26 million.

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Jockey John Velazquez, left, watches as trainer Bob Baffert holds up the winner's trophy after they victory with Medina Spirit in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) ** FILE **

Bob Baffert mulling Medina Spirit's next step after Kentucky Derby win

- Associated Press

As Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert digests a record seventh Kentucky Derby win that caught even him off guard, he and Medina Spirit's connections must determine whether the dark brown colt will turn around quickly for the 146th Preakness on May 15 in Baltimore, where a collection of rested horses and revenge-minded competitors await.

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