BALTIMORE — Lindsay Schanzer went to bed Saturday night confident about her plans to produce NBC’s Preakness broadcast. Then word emerged that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test.
“I probably went to sleep with a smile on my face and then woke up to a couple texts and then that smiled turned into something else,” Schanzer said. “It has challenged me, challenged our production team in a lot of ways, but we are always ready to adjust as news breaks and as the landscape changes.”
Schanzer will make television history at the Preakness when she becomes the first woman to produce a Triple Crown race live on site. The 32-year-old attended the Preakness a couple of times as a fan in college and now will lead NBC Sports’ production of the race many will be watching to see if Medina Spirit can keep Triple Crown hopes alive, albeit with a giant asterisk.
After breaking into the business as a runner and getting her feet wet as a stage manager in a commentators’ booth at Wimbledon, this is a Pimlico debut Schanzer won’t soon forget.
“I didn’t realistically expect that things wouldn’t change over the course of the week,” she said. “I just didn’t think it would be quite like this.”
MEDINA SPIRIT PASSES FIRST TEST
Bob Baffert-trained Preakness runners Medina Spirit and Concert Tour and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes filly Beautiful Gift passed the first of three rounds of additional prerace testing after an agreement with Maryland racing officials. The results from the second and third tests are expected back Friday afternoon.
If those tests also come back clean, Medina Spirit and Concert Tour would be cleared to run in the Preakness on Saturday. Medina Spirit is the 9-5 favorite and Concert Tour the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
“While we acknowledge the challenging circumstances that prompted this further need for transparency, it reflects, above all else, that the principles of integrity, accountability, and safety in our sport are non-negotiable,” 1/ST Racing CEO Craig Fravel said in a statement.
Everything else is going fine with the Derby winner. Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes has no concerns about Medina Spirit coming back for the Preakness two weeks after his wire-to-wire win. Medina Spirit galloped a mile and a half Thursday and is training as well as could be expected.
“He had no wear and tear, came out in excellent shape and moved right ahead,” said Barnes, who is leading the training with Baffert not in Baltimore after Medina Spirit’s failed drug test. “Couldn’t be better. He came out of the Derby in fine shape. He wasn’t a tired horse, rebounded quickly.”
For all the talk about Medina Spirit, Concert Tour and Midnight Bourbon, trainer Michael McCarthy likes what he sees out of 12-1 Rombauer in the leadup to the Preakness.
Rombauer has only raced twice since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November and is coming off a third-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 3.
“Distance doesn’t seem to be an issue for him,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think the pace will be quite as stern in this race as it was in the Breeders’ Cup. I could be wrong. His best races have shown when he comes back from the second flight of horses, so he’s a little bit pace dependent like that, but the horse is doing well.”
McCarthy said Romauer typically trains well and isn’t worried about that. With the chance to spring an upset, McCarthy said Rombauer’s “best weapon is between his ears. He’s a smart little horse.”