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Crowded Derby Harms Preakness

AP Photo

A sport whose wagering numbers and on-site attendance figures are dwindling needs every bit of knockout branding it can get. The Kentucky Derby is, and always will be, a day of wine and roses in a sport whose routine daily existence is leaning more these days toward stale beer and dandelions.

The premise of the Derby is that its prestige creates a field of dreams. The reality, confirmed by the concern of some of the brightest minds in the sport, is that it is becoming a field of nightmares. Its bloated 20-horse maximum, always filled now, has created something more like a cavalry charge than a horse race.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who has won three times, calls it a "demolition derby."

He experienced that last year, when his Lookin At Lucky drew the inside post and was squeezed down to the rail so badly at the start that he never had a chance.

"He was...

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