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Medina Spirit Asst. Trainer Barnes isn't about controversy... he's about the Preakness

Derby winner is 9-5 favorite in 146th Preakness Stakes
Posted at 2:56 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 17:32:27-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — As the sun rises over Pimlico Race Course with it comes another day of uncertainty for the Preakness favorite.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit took to the track in preparation for his triple crown bid. His trainer in town, assistant Jimmy Barnes, is not one for commenting on controversy surrounding the colt.

"I’m just going to keep this interview to the horses. We have training here for the Preakness. So, if you can keep your questions to that I’d appreciate it," he said outside the Stakes Barn.

Barnes is hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert's assistant. He is leading the training in Baltimore instead of Baffert, who has stayed away from Pimlico and said he doesn’t want to be a distraction. Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test after the Derby win. It showed increased levels of the steroid betamethasone. A split blood sample is currently being analyzed to confirm the positive result. Extra tests on Medina Spirit are also being run this week by the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Racing Commission. Usually a mainstay in Maryland during Preakness week, Baffert isn't around.

How different does it feel without him here?

"I’m used to it," answered Barnes. "I travel all the time. I’m always on the road. Bob is there sometimes, great. If Bob can’t make it, I just have to pick up the slack and march on and try to do my best and try to produce a win."

And get Medina Spirit ready for Saturday.

"He came out of the Derby great. He wasn’t a tired horse, rebounded quickly and shipped up here, handles the track very well," said Barnes. "The weather is good so I think everyone is going to have a fair chance at this with it only being a ten horse field. I’m excited."

Friday is when tests are expected back on Medina Spirit. If they are clean he’ll run in the Preakness. If not, he’ll be scratched.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook