Preakness is 1st horse race to make digital souvenir NFTs

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FILE – Jockey Calvin Borel gestures as he rides Rachel Alexandra to victory in the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, in this Saturday, May 16, 2009, file photo. The Preakness is the first horse race to release one of a kind digital souvenirs to auction off, NFTs like the ones Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors did. Officials see it as a chance for horse racing to reach a younger audience. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Anyone who has ever wanted a personal video copy of Secretariat’s 1973 Preakness victory or a digital rendering of the race’s Woodlawn Vase — and an actual 28-inch replica of the trophy to go with it — is in luck.

The Preakness on Wednesday became the first horse racing event to put up for auction digital souvenirs known as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. Making available 17 items ranging from full race videos to the trophy and a special Preakness horse for the digital racing game Zed Run is another way officials hope to market an old sport to a younger audience.

“Launching an NFT collection around the Preakness, something that we know is very special and has been running for 146 years, I think will help us sort of make inroads to that that younger audience,” said David Wilson, chief marketing officer of 1/ST Racing, an arm of the Stronach Group that operates the Preakness. “We’re making incredible strides, I think, to innovate within our sport, to draw in sort of a younger audience. I think with the NFT collection, we wanted to be the first within our sport to do it.”

The Preakness partnered with Zed Run and Medium Rare, the same company that did Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski’s NFT that sold for $1.75 million and a collection for the Golden State Warriors that went for more than $2 million total. Medium Rare co-founder Adam Richman likened the phenomenon to physical memorabilia, though instead of owning Secretariat’s saddlecloth, it’s an authenticated video of his romp to the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

“When you’re able to buy the 1973 Triple Crown winner and own that piece of history, it’s pretty iconic and pretty historic,” he said.

Some of the tokens come with real-life experiences at the 2021 Preakness, including VIP tickets, a visit to the winner’s circle and naming a race on the undercard. Some of the money from the auctions will go to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

SENTIMENTAL LONG SHOT

Owner Robert Baker kept telling trainer D. Wayne Lukas in their 80s they didn’t have much time left in horse racing. After Baker’s death, Lukas decided to take a horse co-owned by Baker and William Mack to the Preakness, even if the 85-year-old doesn’t think Ram stands a great chance of winning.

“His wife is emotional about, I think, coming here and being a part of this,” Lukas said Wednesday morning outside the stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course. “We’re the long shot, but we’re dangerous. I don’t think we can win it. I think we can probably be on the board. But we may not even do that. If we don’t, we’ll load him up and go home.”

Lukas, the Hall of Famer with 14 victories in Triple Crown races including six at the Preakness, said, “I don’t have to stand here with you guys and try to prove I can train a horse, so I’m not worried about that.” Lukas said Ram reminded him of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow in terms of how he was improving, but he’s not stressing about pulling off a major upset.

The oddsmakers agree. Ram was set as the longest shot on the board at 30-1 on the morning line.

KEEP HIM IN MIND

Keepmeinmind, one of only three Kentucky Derby horses running in the Preakness, arrived at Pimlico on Tuesday and took his first steps on the track Wednesday morning. Trainer Robertino Diodoro said he couldn’t get to his horse’s stable fast enough to make sure all the food was gone after a long van ride from Louisville.

“He ate everything,” Diodoro said. “The big thing is keeping him healthy and happy now and make sure he continues to eat well.”

Diodoro said he was “very confident” in Keepmeinmind coming off a seventh-place finish in the Derby.

“It’s the first time things have lined up for this horse,” he said. “The last five weeks, it’s finally going his way.”

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