When an unheralded horse with a teenaged, second-choice jockey slipped through along the rail and splashed home best in the 1983 Preakness, it was less an outlier than a continuation.

Deputed Testamony was the eighth Maryland-bred to win the Preakness and the third in less than 20 years, following in the hoofprints of Bee Bee Bee (1972) and Kauai King (1966).

What no one knew — or could have known — at the time was that, 40 years on, the modestly bred son of Traffic Cop would remain the most recent Maryland-bred to wear the black-eyed susans.

Since, there have been a couple of near-misses, a handful of horses that generated interest at the wagering windows, and a few genuinely outstanding Maryland-breds who, for one reason or another didn’t run in the Preakness.

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So: good, even great Maryland-breds. But no Preakness winners.

Why not?

It’s an interesting question, one that elicits a variety of answers.

Let’s start with perhaps the most obvious of them: luck. There’s only one Preakness winner a year; a lot of factors have to line up correctly.

Bill Boniface, patriarch of Bonita Farm an breeder, trainer, and co-owner of Deputed Testamony, a son of Traffic Cop out of the Prove It mare Proof Requested, describes the breeding of his biggest star thusly:

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“I had Traffic Cop, and he was kind of a reject from Spendthrift Farm,” he remembered. “Mr. Sears was calling with this mare. I said, ‘You got the mare for $500. I got this horse standing for $500. Why don’t you put up the mare, and I’ll put up the stud, and we’ll be 50-50 on the foal?’ We shook hands, and there was never anything on paper.”

Which makes for a great story, but isn’t exactly a replicable business model. Yet it’s funny how often that turns out to be the model for top horses.

To read the rest of the story, head over to The Racing Biz.

The Baltimore Banner and The Racing Biz have a content-sharing partnership leading up to the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 20.

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