The Preakness Stakes returns to its traditional date this year, the third Saturday in May, for its 146th running.
The historic race held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore will feature a 10-horse field Saturday, but much of the attention will be on Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit … for all the wrong reasons.
Following his Derby triumph on May 1, Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory medication that is considered a possible performance enhancer when found in a horse’s blood on race day. Legendary trainer Bob Baffert initially denied any wrongdoing before releasing a statement acknowledging that Medina Spirit had been treated with an ointment containing the medication in the days leading up to the race.
Despite the positive test, the Maryland Jockey Club has granted Baffert the opportunity to race Medina Spirit this weekend after he agreed to rigorous testing and monitoring.
Kentucky Derby officials are currently awaiting the results of a second sample to be tested before potentially disqualifying Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby victory.
The post time for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes is 6:50 p.m. EST. It will be televised by NBC.
2021 Preakness Stakes post positions and odds
Historically, horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby have fared well in the Preakness. Between 2000 and 2019, 16 of the 20 Preakness Stakes winners were in the Kentucky Derby field.
However, the 2021 Preakness Stakes will only have three Derby horses entered in the field. In addition to Medina Spirit, Keepmeinmind (7th place) and Midnight Bourbon (6th place) will return to the racetrack this weekend.
The Preakness post position draw was held on Tuesday, and the field will break from the starting gates as follows:
|Post Position||Horse||Morning Line Odds|
|7||France Go de Ina||20-1|
New contenders to challenge Medina Spirit
Among the Preakness entries who didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby is Ram. He is a son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and trained by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. A Lukas-trained horse has won the Preakness six times, most recently in 2013.
Trainer Chad Brown is seeking his second Preakness victory, entering both Crowded Trade and Risk Taking in Saturday’s field. Brown last won the Preakness with Cloud Computing in 2017.
Medina Spirit is not the only Baffert-trained horse in the Preakness. Baffert has also entered Concert Tour, who opened as the second choice at 5-2.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Preakness ran just seven months ago, on Oct. 3, as the third leg of the Triple Crown. The 2020 winner was Swiss Skydiver. Kenneth McPeek trained the horse and Robby Albarado was the jockey.
Why is Medina Spirit allowed to race?
The initial positive test for betamethasone does not automatically disqualify Medina Spirit from his Kentucky Derby title. Derby officials are waiting for test results on a second sample before making that declaration. The second sample is not due back for a few weeks.
“If the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” Churchill Downs announced in a statement.
In the meantime, Churchill Downs suspended Baffert from entering any horses. In its statement, Churchill Downs cited the “seriousness of the alleged offense” for Baffert’s suspension.
But the Maryland Jockey Club is allowing Baffert to enter horses in the Preakness. As part of the agreement, Baffert consented to rigorous testing and monitoring by the Maryland Jockey Club in addition to that conducted by the Maryland Racing Commission.
According to the Maryland Jockey Club, the group tested both Medina Spirit and Concert Tour upon arrival at Pimlico and tested them again Tuesday. Should either test positive or above a legal limit for a permitted therapeutic substance, they will be scratched from the race.