Medina Spirit cleared to run in Preakness after passing final drug tests

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 them 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.

Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone in post-Derby testing. If a second round of testing there comes back positive, Medina Spirit will be disqualified and Mandaloun named winner of the Derby.

“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.

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.

Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, who is handling Baffert’s horses at Pimlico in the trainer’s absence, said Medina Spirit is training as well as could be expected after galloping a mile and a half Thursday.

“He had no wear and tear, came out in excellent shape and moved right ahead,” Barnes said. “Couldn’t be better. He came out of the Derby in fine shape. He wasn’t a tired horse, rebounded quickly.’’

Medina Spirit was set as the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Preakness and Concert Tour 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,” Barnes said. “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”.