Somewhere in California, Bob Baffert breathes a sigh of relief. Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit and his Stablemate Concert Tour have been cleared for the Preakness Stakes.
There were doubts about the stallions taking part in Saturday’s race. When it first became known that the Derby winner tested positive for the anti-inflammatory steroid betamethasone, it cast a shadow over Baffert and resulted in the iconic Churchill Downs coach being suspended.
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On Friday, Maryland race directors announced that Medina Spirit had passed its second wave of drug tests. The tests were part of an agreement that was made to allow Baffert’s horses to take part in the Preakness. As long as they passed the tests, the horses could race.
“While we recognize the challenging circumstances that led to this wider need for transparency, it largely reflects that the principles of integrity, accountability and safety in our sport are non-negotiable,” said Craig Fravel, CEO of 1 / ST Racing, part of the group that, according to ESPN, owns the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, the location of Preakness.
With that now in the rearview mirror, it’s game for Baffert’s horses. His filly Beautiful Gift was seventh in the Black-Eyed Susan on Friday.
Medina Spirit will start on Saturday from position no. 3, while the Concert Tour will start from position no. 10 in the 10 horse field. At this point in time they are the two favorites in the race, with Medina Spirit (9-5) having a slight lead on the Concert Tour (5-2).
Baffert chose to stay home this weekend to avoid distraction, the Washington Post reported.