Medina Spirit to race in Preakness Stakes after agreement reached

BALTIMORE -- Preakness officials said Tuesday that they are allowing Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit to enter Saturday's race, subject to additional testing and monitoring, after the colt's failed drug test after the Derby.

Medina Spirit and two other horses trained by Bob Baffert will be under extra scrutiny in the days leading up to the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The Maryland Racing Commission and Baffert have agreed to the conditions for Medina Spirit, fellow Preakness runner Concert Tour, and Beautiful Gift, who is expected to run in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on Friday.

"We reached an agreement with Mr. Baffert and his lawyers that allows for additional testing, additional monitoring -- essentially a watchlist to ensure the integrity of the sport leading up to the race," Maryland Jockey Club lawyer Alan Rifkin said. "We're very pleased to have that, and we appreciate Mr. Baffert's patience and the way in which his lawyers went about it."

Baffert's attorney, Craig Robertson, wrote in his letter to Rifkin that detailed the agreement that Baffert "consents to the public release of this letter and all testing results."

Medina Spirit drew the No. 3 post Tuesday in a field of 10 horses as the 9-5 morning-line favorite. Concert Tour drew the outside 10th post and is the second choice in the wagering at 5-2.

Ram drew the No. 1 post at 30-1, Keepmeinmind the No. 2 at 15-1, Crowded Trade the No. 4 post at 10-1, Midnight Bourbon the No. 5 post at 5-1, Rombauer the No. 6 at 12-1, France Go de Ina the No. 7 at 20-1, Unbridled Honor the No. 8 at 15-1 and Risk Taking the No. 9 at 15-1.

In a statement issued earlier Tuesday by his lawyer, Baffert said that Medina Spirit was treated for dermatitis with the ointment once a day leading up to the May 1 race and that equine pharmacology experts have told him this could explain the test results. Baffert said the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the substance, which is typically given to horses therapeutically to help their joints and is a violation even at a trace amount on race day in Kentucky.

Maryland Racing's chief veterinary officer, Dr. Dionne Benson, said at the Preakness draw that test results on the three Baffert horses are expected back Friday. This is an additional layer of blood testing from blood taken last week, Monday and Tuesday on top of the usual postrace tests.

"[The tests] will allow us to ensure that if there is or was any betamethasone or any other medications, whether therapeutic or illegal, in the horse, we will know about them before the race," Benson said. "Because traditionally most of the testing now will occur after the race, and this allows us to, instead of addressing the issue after the fact, to prevent the issue from becoming a problem."

Benson said if betamethasone is detected by laboratory testing in any of the horses, officials will ask Baffert to scratch that horse.

"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 said in his earlier statement Tuesday. "Medina Spirit is a deserved champion, and I will continue to fight for him."

Regardless of the reason, Medina Spirit would be disqualified from the Derby if a second round of testing shows the presence of betamethasone. Derby runner-up Mandaloun would be elevated to winner. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.

Medina Spirit's failed drug test is the fifth medication violation in the past 13 months for Baffert, a two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer and the face of the sport. Winning the Preakness with Medina Spirit or Concert Tour would give Baffert a record eighth victory in that race, breaking a tie with 19th-century trainer R.W. Walden.

Except for 2020, when the Triple Crown races were run out of order due to the pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with the Derby winner in the Preakness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.