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Preakness week begins with controversy

Medina Spirit arrives at Pimlico as Maryland Jockey Club decides whether Kentucky Derby winner can race in 146th Preakness
medina spirit arrives
Posted at 6:18 PM, May 10, 2021

BALTIMORE, Md. — Like it or not the 146th Preakness Stakes is all about the controversy leading up to it.

The horse racing world is waiting to see if Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will be allowed to enter Saturday’s Preakness. The Maryland Jockey Club says it is consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission and reviewing the facts after Medina Spirit failed a drug test following the Derby. He tested positive for an increased level of the steroid betamethasone.

"I think he was contaminated by something, somehow. I don’t know if we’ll ever know,"hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert told ABC. "We know for certain we did not give him that."

Baffert has been banned from entering horses at Churchill Downs while the situation is investigated. It’s his fifth horse to fail a drug test in a year. He is fighting the latest findings.

"Racing has its problems but Bob Baffert isn’t one of them."

So where does this leave the Preakness?

"It feels a little bit like the circus is coming to town, here," said Frank Vespe, a racing analyst for theracingbiz.com.

Vespe feels this is going to be a Preakness week the likes of which we’ve never seen before.

"It sort of ratchets up the pressure on the Maryland Jockey Club where some people are going to say, ‘Hey you’ve got to do what Churchill did. It’s the right thing, you’ve got to exclude this guy. Maybe he’s a cheat'. It is a sticky wicket," he said. "The easiest way is for them to have the Maryland Racing Commission, which regulates racing here, say, 'Look as far as we’re concerned he can enter' and let him go based on those grounds. But obviously it’s a decision which The Stronach Group, which owns the Maryland Jockey Club, is chewing over right now."

Baffert said Monday he will not attend the Preakness to avoid creating a distraction.

The draw for the Preakness, originally scheduled for Monday, was pushed back to Tuesday at 4:00 p.m.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook