Early vote wins Preakness after skipping Derby; Epicenter second

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 Early vote wins Preakness after skipping Derby;  Epicenter second

BALTIMORE — Much of the attention leading up to the 147th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course focused less on the horse racing on the sizzling Saturday night and more on those that weren’t even in attendance.

Rich Strike, the 80-1 Long Shot winner of the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, was conspicuously absent after owner Rick Dawson and trainer Eric Reed decided to give the horse more time to rest and recover for next month’s Belmont Stakes .

Bob Baffert, one of horse racing’s most successful and controversial coaches, didn’t come to Baltimore either. The 69-year-old is still serving his 90-day ban from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after Medina Spirit, who finished first at last year’s Kentucky Derby, tested positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug. Medina Spirit collapsed after a workout last December and died.

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