First Mission out of Preakness as the likely second choice to Kentucky Derby winner Mage

May 19, 2023

In our days of technology and social media the rumor mill swirls. Sometimes it is right, sometimes it is wrong. Late Thursday rumors started flying on social media First Mission would be a ‘vet scratch’ out of The Preakness. The highly regarded colt owned by Godolphin and trained by Brad Cox won The Lexington at Keeneland last out and was the likely second choice to Kentucky Derby winner Mage.

At 7am Friday morning, Black Eyed Susan day, Godolphin released a Press Release confirming the rumors, sort of.

Godolphin will scratch First Mission from this year’s Preakness Stakes after consulting with the 1/ST veterinary team. He will receive further evaluation in Kentucky at Rood and Riddle hospital with Dr. Larry Bramlage. Brad Cox worked with the 1/ST veterinary team the last couple of days to try and fully identify a left hind issue but were unable to do so on the grounds at Pimlico. We are obviously very disappointed, but the welfare of the horse is our utmost concern, and we are going to take the necessary steps to determine the best course of action to get him back on the track.”

Michael Banahan, Godolphin

The scratch of First Mission follows the scratches of four Kentucky Derby horses this year including the probable and early favorite Forte. Here are the questions. If brad Cox was working with the1/ST veterinary team “the last couple of day’ where was thee transparency about that? After all, it is The Preakness. Odds, advance lines, analysis is all based on information and we hear a lot about transparency. In the wake of Forte having a positive test from The Hopeful at Saratoga, and the connections lobbying to run the horse in The Derby knowing that but not disclosing it to the press or public, you’d think any First Mission issues would be brought to light. It at least appears that hasn’t happened and transparency on an acceptable level in racing is still missing. The rumor mill on social media is not where these things should come out.

The next question is more delicate. Is First Mission a voluntary scratch, or a Vet Scratch if not scratched voluntarily? If they had figured out the issue and the horse ran, how much would have been bet on him without many of those bettors knowing there was an issue?

Photo: Jenny Photo, Past the Wire

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