- Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is heading to Baltimore for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
- Trainer Bob Baffert will remain in California while trainer Jimmy Barnes handles his horses.
- Baffert will saddle Medina Spirit along with Concert Tour for the second leg in the Triple Crown.
The winner of the Kentucky Derby invariably is pointed toward the Preakness Stakes but this year there’s a bit more controversy than usual. Medina Spirit along with stablemate Concert Tour were vanned to Baltimore on Monday while trainer Bob Baffert remained home in California. Baffert is hoping to avoid a media circus over Medina Spirit’s failed postrace drug test on Kentucky Derby day. Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of the drug betamethasone per milliliter of blood serum. Betamethasone is an approved anti-inflamatory given to horses for joint swelling but Kentucky racing rules require that the drug not be administered less than 14 days before a race. Baffert has maintained that Media Spirit was never given betamethasone further clouding what is already an increasingly messy situation.
Baffert told the media on Monday that he didn’t want to be a distraction and that assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes will be in charge:
“I go to Baltimore to have a good time. It’s a fun trip. I don’t want to take away from the horses. I think it’d be a distraction if I went. I think it’d be a distraction if I win. The owners will be there. [Assistant trainer] Jimmy [Barnes] can handle it.”
There’s still a question over whether Baffert’s horses will be allowed entry into the Preakness. Baffert has been suspended from entering horses at Churchill Downs until the drug issue is adjudicated. The Maryland Jockey Club and Pimlico race stewards are now reviewing the situation and will decide on Baffert’s status after that. The track has pushed the Preakness draw back until 4 PM Tuesday to allow time for that review.
Baffert’s attorney, Craig Robertson, says he’s reaching out to Pimlico management to discuss the situation and the legal issues that could arise from a ban on Medina Spirit entering the race. Should Pimlico deny the entry, Robertson says that he’ll file a temporary restraining order:
“Hopefully they reach a decision that is one we can live with. If not, we will go to court and we will seek a TRO.”
Robertson also took a shot at Churchill Downs for announcing that Baffert had been suspended before a positive result announced:
“We don’t even have an official positive yet,. Any decision to ban him, by anyone, be it Churchill or Pimlico or anyone else, is unlawful.”
Expect the situation to continue to unfold throughout the week. Never a dull moment in horse racing!