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Donna Brothers of NBC Sports makes her annual visit to Baltimore Positive, discussing at length the Baffert and Churchill drama and previewing all of the connections and stories of Preakness 149 at Pimlico with Nestor.


horses, preakness, kentucky derby, baffert, race, talking, win, churchill downs, horse racing, people, year, feel, baltimore, triple crown, trainers, preakness stakes, derby, kentucky, friday, good


Donna Brothers, Nestor J. Aparicio

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:00

Hey, welcome home we are W n s t test Baltimore, Baltimore positive positively taking the Maryland crab cake tour. Downtown on Friday. We’ve got a bonus because of the crappy weather and the postponement of the Oriole game and the bad weather on Wednesday. The world famous crab Derby been going on for two years at the Lexington market plaza. They were gonna move it inside but that’s not the plaza they want to do it outside because the crabs are outside and they were told they might need mechanical crabs. We’re gonna have Maryland crabs in this race. It’s been moved to Friday and we were already doing our show there on Friday. I’m giving out a Maryland lottery scratch offs to receive our friends. The Pac Man walk a walk is coming in to eat everyone there on Friday. We got a lot of winners as well but Oriole baseball Friday, NFL schedule this week. We have lacrosse things going on. We just we have a PGA Championship, and this little horse race we’ve been talking about all week long.


Donna Brothers  00:55

You guys have a PGA Championship. We have that in Louisville to Valhalla.

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:59

Well, I mean, I’ve been promoting this are the things going on this weekend. Imagination. Oh,

Donna Brothers  01:07

sure. You weren’t stealing our PGA Stanley

Nestor J. Aparicio  01:09


Cup coverage on NBC Sports too. So Donna Brothers is here. She’s a defending champion returning Yogini and, and world champion of being the interviewer of and you get that moment on that on that course when, and this time was crazier, because nobody really knew who won the race. But Welcome home. Welcome back to Baltimore. It’s good to have you on and I love the certainty that I’m talking to everyone about this week, which is frequencies here. We got Laurel plan, we got a Preakness plan. We have a plan here and I’m excited about it. Yeah,

Donna Brothers  01:44

so are we you know, the Preakness is the second jewel of the Triple Crown, and it wouldn’t be horse racing without it. And so we always knew that the Preakness was going to survive, but where it was going to survive and how it was going to survive has been up in the air for so many years. And so it is nice to have a plan that looks like it’s going to be executed and it will work. Well

Nestor J. Aparicio  02:04

before I get to all of the horse racing stuff. Y’all brag about Baltimore. And you know, you’re mostly some Kentucky people I’ve had on this week are a lot of exposure to Kentucky. If I made you the queen of the Preakness, and I brought you in here and said, You’re gonna run it and make it awesome. And make and my charge to you as the king of the Preakness would be making, like what they’ve done in Kentucky, can we take the next 10 or 15 years and build it? It’s not gonna happen overnight. But how would we in a modern world build something in this community that we had at one point because I remembered my childhood and I talked about it fondly, where the Preakness is a week long activity. And it’s, it’s, it’s a civic treasure that I feel like when I go to Louisville, they’ll take it seriously down there. Yeah, well, it’s

Donna Brothers  02:51

got to be a beautiful facility, right? The kids today don’t want to go to a dated facility. And when by kids, I mean anybody under the age of 30. And if that’s the audience you’re trying to attract, you’re gonna have to update your facility, which is step one, and that got that covered. Secondly, you’ve got to have adequate parking nearby. It doesn’t have to be even on site, as long as you have shuttles that can take people back and forth. So you’ve got to have adequate parking and not just parking piecemeal, all through the neighborhood, you’ve got to be able to accommodate the people who are going to come in. And after that, I feel like you know, they’re doing everything that they need to do. One of the things that makes Churchill Downs, such as spectacular Kentucky Derby, such a spectacular event at Churchill Downs is that, you know, we’d show off the venue on NBC Sports, we walk around and show the new SI club and the new Woodford Reserve paddock suites. And pimlico’s not able to do that. If you walked around to show off the venue right now, you’d be sadly disappointed. So they’re creating a venue that we are going to be able to show off. And I think once we’re able to walk around and with our cameras show all these exciting new places to come to the races or to come to a concert for that matter for an event offseason that has nothing to do with racing. I think more people from around the United States who are tuning into the telecast are going to decide that Preakness Stakes needs to be on the bucket list.


Nestor J. Aparicio  04:14

Well see now we’re talking See, I knew you could sell it up for me here. Not much to sell this race. I mean, this is a really good race. It’s got interesting can everything that makes your broadcast on NBC beautiful, which are telling the stories and I’ve had Bob on this week and the Kenny McPeak thing and you know, obviously, the whole Churchill background is a story for Bob and and Muth not running and imagination. But more than that the race itself and Mr. Dan, obviously the Kentucky Derby winner will not be a favorite on Saturday, and that unto itself is such a rarity. Well,

Donna Brothers  04:51

the Kentucky Derby winner is a good horse. He’s proven that he’s a really good horse but he finished third beat and six and a quarter lengths the last time that he played Ace boots so Muth is definitely a rightful favorite. If you look at his numbers and most people who bet racing or look at racing seriously at all, look at the numbers and his buyer speed figures are steady. He’s never run a race lower than a 90. And if you look at Mystic Dan, he’s got a couple of buyer figures that are higher than anything Muth has ever run. So he has shown that he’s capable on his best day of running a better race than Muth is capable of but he hasn’t been steady. So he said buyer figures that are 7896 6482 and then all of a sudden that big one a one when he won the Southwest steaks. He regressed a bit in the Arkansas Derby when he was beaten by Muth with an 89. And he didn’t have a great trip in there. And then in the Kentucky Derby, he ran a huge number 100 which is higher than anything Muth has ever run. So you know, it looks like in the morning line, I’m not sure what exactly they have missed again at but they’ve got moved that nine to five. And I think it’s going to be a better race than than people think according to the odds, I definitely think that of mystic Dan comes back at his best Muth is going to have a difficult time beating him. I

Nestor J. Aparicio  06:12

think he’s a Baltimorean, who is still a little bit shell shocked by spent the buck from the 80s. And remembering when the Derby winner didn’t come to Baltimore, and then the Triple Crown and the million dollar purses and all of the things that happen. But we’re still at a point where this two week thing is problematic that even no matter who wins the Derby, the day after the question will be is it a good idea? Is it good for my horse? Is it good for racing? Can we win the race? You know, is it the right thing to do? Most people most horses say two weeks is not the ideal thing to do is far from ideal. But we’re still holding on to that. And I think the Preakness always feels a little jeopardized to me year to year because of that, and I’d love to see them find some way to to make this appealing to trainers, owners everyone. And again, continue to grow this, get this to where it needs to be not where you’re trying to every year. Wonder if we’re gonna have the Kentucky Derby champion here. Yeah,

Donna Brothers  07:14


and that’s great. I’m a proponent for changing the spacing. I think that it will make it more difficult because you’ll see more horses come back from the Kentucky Derby right now. 90 some percent of the time the winner from the Kentucky Derby is going to come back into the Preakness if he’s healthy because he or she, because you can’t win the Triple Crown if you don’t win that second leg, but we’re not getting the other horses back in the race. And I think that if they change the spacing to where maybe there’s three weeks, maybe there’s four weeks, I’m a proponent for the every four weeks Kentucky Derby first Saturday in May Preakness per Saturday in June, Belmont Stakes for Saturday in July, I think you’re gonna see much stiffer competition and all three legs of the Triple Crown. So rather than making it easier to win because of the spacing, it will, it will still make it as difficult as ever, if not more difficult, because you’ll have more horses that come back from the Kentucky Derby. Now keep in mind, the horses that go into the Kentucky Derby are what we consider to be the best three year olds in the country at that time. And when you only have one of those horses coming back into that second leg of the Triple Crown, it does dilute the quality of the competition a bit. I don’t think that’s the case this year, just because this was a special year where Bob Baffert was not allowed to participate in the Kentucky Derby again, for the third time, hopefully the last time so he’s bringing two really good horses into the Preakness Stakes that we didn’t see in the derby. So this year’s Preakness is is still gonna be a great race, but I have to share with you real quick Bob Baffert had the quote of the week as far as I was concerned, when he was talking about asking a trainer to bring a horse back from the Kentucky Derby into the Preakness Stakes and and in making that decision, Baffert said his quote was, it’s like saying to your wife after she gives birth, hey, we need to have another kid. You got to give them a little bit more time to think about it. This is why McPeak wasn’t in any hurry, right? He needed to see how’s my horse first before I commit to anything else, which to his credit is what you should do.

Nestor J. Aparicio  09:14

Well done, bro. She’s here. She will be on NBC Sports, the 149th running of our Preakness Stakes here at Old hilltop this week with great race. Alright, so let’s address Bob. You know, I’ve had Bob on I’ve had some of your colleagues on and old friends of mine, like Dick, you’re already who come on every year for 32 years is we’ve done this. And the Baffert thing is from the outside, you know, I know personal battles Google may write, like, you know, you get into the middle of these things where people can agree, even on what compromises their integrity, and the integrity of the sport and the fact that the best horse might win this Saturday and might have been the best horse two weeks ago. Sort of is tragic, all the way around for the sport. But then when I peel it back every person like you thinks that this is either patently absurd or has gotten way out of hand.

Donna Brothers  10:07

I’m not sure that I agree with that. So, I was in the aftermath of what happened with Medina spirit where you have the bad test, we won the Kentucky Derby he tested positive for a substance called beta methadone, which is a banned substance. Baffert later realized that it was in an ointment that he was using on the horse topically, so he was never administered beta methadone. And this beta methadone definitely affects the horse differently, because it’s really just local to that area because he had a skin rash to keep it from being irritating at the same time. The number one ingredient in that ointment that he was using was beta map ozone. So either his vet or his assistant trainer should have seen that. I thought, when that came out that Baffert would say, my bad, I didn’t realize beta methadone was in the ointment, but instead what happened was that Baffert in America Don and I think more Amir’s did on and Baffert fought it in the courts, not for a few months, not for a year, but for two years. And immediately, Churchill down said, you know, you can’t run here for two years, this is something that we, we think that you should have admitted wrongdoing, you didn’t admit wrongdoing. And so this is a banned substance, we realized that the the application of it was different than maybe the way the rules were intended to prevent it, but at the same time, it’s still a banned substance. So the next two years, a Mirza Dan continued to fight this accusation. And Baffert was part of that. And at the end of towards the end of those two years, Churchill Downs just said, Look, we’re a publicly traded company, and these lawsuits have cost us hundreds of 1000s of dollars in, in, essentially, our shareholders money, right. And so I think they just felt like, Look, you, they came out and said, you’ve never admitted to wrongdoing, and you are continuing to sue us. And so you can’t play in our Kentucky Derby again for another year. Why? Because they have the right to do that. It’s their company, they can do whatever they want. Now, I’m not saying that I think that was the right decision. But at the same time, I can understand why they did it. They are a publicly traded company that has a fiduciary duty to defend their product, and to try to be cost effective and efficient for their shareholders and these ongoing lawsuits. Were not helping with that. I think there was also maybe something to it, where they didn’t want to hand the 150 of the Kentucky Derby trophy to somebody who’s been suing them for the last two years. They didn’t say that, but there’s probably something to that, and maybe they would have. So they just said no, you can’t come this year now right after they said that he’s banned for a third year. Baffert and Amir’s it and dropped the lawsuit. But does that mean that Churchill Downs that needs to go okay, you can come you can come play not really, again, it’s their playground. So they get to make the rules. And so they just decided, no, you can’t come this year. I think that’ll be the end of it as long as Amir sedang can keep himself from suing Churchill Downs again for something else, but we’ll see.

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:16

Well, I mean, ownership trainers, people connections, a little bit of drama, more than a little bit of drama. Yeah. Great stories, though, as well. Not just bad for coming in trying to win another one. But the legendary feel to trainers here who have all experienced some success here. I mean, this is this is a nice race for you guys to talk about for a couple hours on Saturday. Yeah, absolutely.


Donna Brothers  13:38

I mean, I’ve we’ve talked about so far as Baffert is get two horses in there, and the Kentucky Derby winners coming back, but Chad Brown is bringing a horse named Tuscan golden with that same pattern that he brought him with cloud computing and early voting who won the Preakness for him already, so Chad Brown has got to Preakness wins under his belt unlimited starts, he hasn’t started a lot of horses in the Preakness. And this horse Tuscan gold comes in with a very similar sort of past performances scenario, that those other two horses that he won with him came in with, um,

Nestor J. Aparicio  14:07

you know, as far as the industry itself on in the future, and what Pimlico could be and what we’re gonna, you know, have Laurel, we’re gonna be running this race at Laurel for a couple years. And that’ll be interesting as well. But seeing this new facility, what are you seeing trending around the country that is making under 30 year olds interested in the racing game?

Donna Brothers  14:29

Well, I’ll tell you, I have a friend who is an interior designer in Saratoga Springs, and she does businesses office space, things like that professional, commercial interior designer. And she right now is in the midst of a redesign in an old building and asked her why like, did somebody come in and buy that building? And she said, No, the fact is that you can’t attract young people out of college and young professionals in an old dated building. They don’t want to work in a building like that. And so if you want to attract those kinds of young professionals, holes, you have to update your building. And that’s the same with Pimlico, right. The only kids who want to go play Pimlico in that old day to building new ones who are still, I guess, young enough, youthful enough, fun enough, foolish enough at times to go play in the infield, because the Preakness is that’s definitely the People’s Party in the infield at Pimlico, but they need to update their facilities if they want to get sort of the young hip but even older, hip, wealthy people to come to the to the venue. And that’s a, it’s happening. It’s imminent. Now, you every

Nestor J. Aparicio  15:36


time I talk about horse racing, I get somebody that sends me something from the PETA thing, and I had some fun with the mechanical crabs at my crab Derby on Friday. What do you love about horse racing? What What would to somebody that would say that or about the animals or they’re just not familiar with it, or they’ve never really been to the track other than running around at the People’s Party where you don’t even know the horses are there some of the time that in this new modern world where our state is going to build this glass beautiful structure and invite people out? What’s great about the horse racing game at this point from an entry level point, to not have as much exposure to it or to be limited, and maybe in the future be somebody that would go to the track 346 times a year.

Donna Brothers  16:17

Well, it’s interesting, you should say that because somebody just asked me to do a little bit of a speech yesterday on what makes Kentucky not only unique but special. And I couldn’t do that speech without talking about the horses, because at the end of the day, Nestor, it’s in all of our DNA, this entire nation was built on the backs of horses, wars were fought on horses, they were our primary mode of transportation for many generations before us. And I think in Kentucky, we haven’t forgotten that. But we don’t have an agrarian society so much anymore. So a lot of people forget that we are deeply connected to the horses. And one of the things that I say is that, you know, first of all, horses don’t have to let us ride them much more even catch them, they could just run away. They’re faster than we are right? Yeah, they let us ride them. They let us get on their backs and feel what it’s like to go effortlessly at 40 miles an hour with the women going. They let us jump logs and and wade through Craig’s and swim shallow rivers and come out on the other side running jumping plane. You cannot teach your horse to be a racehorse, but you can make them want to run faster. You can develop a relationship with a horse that makes them trust the person more than they trust their own instincts. And that just goes to show that deep relationship that humans have with horses, and so we like to race them because they like to race. We can’t. We’ve had worse thoroughbreds many thoroughbreds who aren’t competitive, and we don’t race them, because we don’t know how to make horses race that aren’t competitive, competitive and don’t want to race. And so there’s so many things that horses can do. And at the end of the day, they are very expensive lawn ornaments. So if you don’t let us race them or do dressage, or show jumping, or 3d scan or trail riding or western pleasure, horses will cease to exist in our society. And that would be a sad day because courts and people came into this civilization together.

Nestor J. Aparicio  18:18

Yeah, my wife and I’ve been married 21 years for 21 years she’s told me she rode as a child she anytime we drove to Pennsylvania for a concert she sees the horses. Brian Billick, my partner’s had horses come ride them. I have Costas my friends own racehorses and have a horse farm that’s three miles from where I live. She hasn’t been but she wants to get on a trail. And she anytime I even mentioned getting on a horse even though she knows it’s gonna make her sore. She smiles and thinks about it. And I keep telling her she’s 52. I said, you know, I’m always the one encouraging her to do it. At some point, she will do it, but just the thought of doing it makes you happy. Yeah,

Donna Brothers  18:56

that’s because it’s in our DNA. It really is. I do realize that so many people are removed from that at this point. But it truly is in our DNA. And I think that’s why just the thought of it makes you happy because it’s there. It might be latent, but it’s there. Well,


Nestor J. Aparicio  19:10

I’ll tell you what, you’ll be here and and the broadcast will be great. The 149th running on the Preakness Stakes, the NBC team is coming in. I’m still stalking core nakki because I need to talk Bill’s ravens with him at some point, but I thought of brothers will be there on the backside. I hope that you don’t have the complication of too close race to not know who the winner is. Again, I didn’t even talk to you about that. But did you really know who the winner was? Or you have people in your ear but I’m not even sure they knew right?

Donna Brothers  19:36

No, they did not know and yes, I do have people in my era but the jockey often knows the jockeys. So when you watch them on the Gallop out if it’s too close to call, look to see what the riders are doing because one of them is likely to be celebrating and the other one is likely to be hopeful. And in this case on the Gallup out, it looked like Tyler gaff Leone was hopeful and Brian Hernandez looked like he thought he won that, in fact, Brian went straight to the Outrider who would pick up the winning horse after that Kentucky Derby to Greg la-z. And so I had a feeling that Brian wanted but I wasn’t going to talk to him until it was declared official. Well, that’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  20:14

because you guys do things the right way over there real journalist. I am always grateful for your time, but this has been a lot of wisdom, especially on the Baffert Churchill side of you know, that’s why I have people like you want to ask questions, you know, hope you have a good trip, as they say here in Baltimore. Oh, rain in the forecast. So widen the brim of the hat. And I’ve seen you in worse mot. Oh my god. I’ve prayed for you some Kentucky Derby is when that rains born on the backside. Dr. Brothers will be with the NBC team and Mike Tirico. And everybody will be in town this weekend. We will show them the Charm City hospitality that we’re famous for around here. We got baseball in town, we get an NFL schedule out and the Ravens open in Kansas City, Luke’s run around with the ball clubs, and I am doing the best job that I can of covering Preakness 149 I am Nestor we will see you at faithless for the crab Derby on Friday. Now move. Luke and I are doing the show down there might have some special visitors as well. We are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. And we never stop talking Baltimore positive

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