Medina Spirit passes drug tests, cleared to run in Preakness

·2 min read

BALTIMORE (AP) — Medina Spirit has passed three rounds of prerace drug testing and been cleared to run in the Preakness on Saturday.

Maryland racing officials said Friday tests on the Kentucky Derby winner and fellow Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour came back with nothing that would cause either to be scratched from the second leg of the Triple Crown. Baffert’s camp agreed to rigorous testing and monitoring of his horses as a condition of entry to the Preakness, after Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone in post-Derby testing.

“While we acknowledge the challenging circumstances that prompted this further need for transparency, it reflects, above all else, that the principles of integrity, accountability, and safety in our sport are non-negotiable.” said Craig Fravel, CEO of 1/ST Racing, a branding arm of the Stronach Group that owns Pimlico Race Course.

Medina Spirit could still be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby and Mandaloun elevated to the winner if a second round of testing from the Derby also comes back positive. The only previous time a Derby winner has been disqualified after the race became official was 1968, when Dancer's Image also ran and was DQ'ed from the Preakness.

All the horses who run in the Preakness are also subject to routine post-race testing.

Medina Spirit was set as the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Preakness and another Baffert-trained horse, Concert Tour, is the 5-2 second choice in the field of 10.

“Sure, we want a Triple Crown every time, but Concert Tour didn’t get his chance in the Derby, so this is his chance to shine,” said assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, who is at the Preakness in Baffert's absence. "You’ve got to give them all a fair shot, and the best horse will win.”

Rival Preakness trainers have not expressed any concern about Baffert's horses running in the race. Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas said he wished he was still on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission so he could move to end the controversy about Medina Spirit over 21 picograms of the steroid found in the horse's blood sample.

“I would absolutely today tell my colleagues that we need to just dismiss this, throw it out, put the Derby winner back on the throne and move on,” Lukas said earlier this week, adding that he thinks the medication had “no bearing on the outcome of the race.”

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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press