Controversial thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert will be able to compete for this third Triple Crown following Medina Spirit passing three rounds of prerace drug testing and being cleared to run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
The three-year-old dark bay colt won the Kentucky Derby – the first jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown – but was almost immediately enmeshed in a scandal when it was revealed that Baffert’s horse tested positive for the steroid betamethasone.
Maryland racing officials said Friday tests on Medina Spirit showed nothing that would cause them to scratch Baffert’s horse. from the 146th running of the Preakness at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.
Not only does allowing Medina Spirt to race keep Baffert’s crown hopes alive – he guided American Pharoah to the title in 2015 and repeated the feat in 2018 with Justify – but the Preakness gives the winner a $1 million purse.
The Derby mess also forced two of Baffert’s other horses to get tested under the terms of an agreement between the legendary trainer and the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which operates Pimlico.
Concert Tour, another colt, has also been cleared for the Preakness. A filly, trained by Baffert – Beautiful Gift – has been given the green light for Saturday’s 97th Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, which also has a $1 million purse.
“Consistent with the fair procedures and practices established by 1/ST RACING and MJC, the additional tests and monitoring were conducted as part of the rigorous condition of entry agreement to ensure the fairness and integrity of the races with horses entered by Baffert,” the racetrack said in its announcement.
Samples were drawn from the horses on May 6, 10 and 11 after Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of prohibited betamethasone in a post-race drug test after winning the Kentucky Derby. Baffert had pointed to a fungal ointment as a “possible source” of the result and denied that Medina Spirit or any other horses he trained had been with the drug.
“MEDINA SPIRIT earned his Kentucky Derby win and my pharmacologists have told me that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the outcome of the race,” Baffert previously said in a statement. “MEDINA SPIRIT is a deserved champion and I will continue to fight for him.”
Medina Spirt is listed as the favorite of the race at 9-5 in the field of 10 horses. Concert Tour is running at 5-2.
Pimlico said that all horses entered in the races will remain under veterinary observation and security surveillance leading up to the events.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.