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Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit cleared to enter Preakness despite failed drug test

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Trainer Bob Baffert of Medina Spirit, raises the trophy after winning the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit, his seventh career Kentucky Derby win, at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit on Tuesday was allowed to enter the upcoming Preakness Stakes race, with conditions, despite failing a drug test for the steroid betamethasone after its Derby victory.

The conditions including “a binding commitment” from Medina Spirit’s trainer Bob Baffert for “full transparency of medical and testing results that will allow for all results to be released to the public,” Maryland Jockey Club and 1/St Racing said in a statement.

The statement said there will be “rigorous testing and monitoring” of Medina Spirit and another Baffert-trained horse, Concert Tour, which also is set to run in the Preakness.

The 146th running of the Preakness, which is the second jewel of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, is set for Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Baffert’s lawyer earlier had threatened to seek a court injunction if the Medina Spirit was barred from Preakness Stakes, as the trainer awaits a second drug test from the Derby that would end with the horse’s victory there being voided if it is positive.

Another Baffert horse, the filly Beautiful Gift, is entered to run in the George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico on Friday, and will be subject to the same conditions, according to Tuesday’s statement.

“If any of the three Baffert horses test positive for a banned substance, or at a level for a permitted therapeutic substance that is above the designated limit, or if after medical review, reasonable conditions warrant, Baffert or [Maryland Jockey Club] on his behalf, will scratch the horse in question,” the statement said.

Baffert on Sunday disclosed that Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms betamethasone, 11 picograms above the legal limit, on the day of Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Baffert, who was suspended indefinitely from Churchill Downs as a result of the failed first test, said at the time that he did not know how the steroid, which is normally used to treat a horse’s joints, entered Medina Spirit’s system.

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing, for something I didn’t do,” Baffert said Sunday. His now-threatened victory with Medina Spirit was his seventh Kentucky Derby win.

So far this year, five Baffert-trained horses have failed drug tests.

John Velazquez aboard Medina Spirit (8) wins the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Michael Clevenger | USA TODAY Sports | Reuters

On Tuesday, before the Preakness Stakes agreed to allow his horses to run, Baffert issued a statement through his lawyer saying that Medina Spirit had been treated with an antifungal ointment containing betamethasone once a day leading up to the Kentucky Derby, which ran on May 1.

“My investigation is continuing, and we do not know for sure if this ointment was the cause of the test results, or if the test results are even accurate, as they have yet to be confirmed by the split sample,” Baffert said.

“I have been told that a finding of a small amount, such as 21 picograms, could be consistent with application of this type of ointment.”

Mary Scollay, executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, told NBC News that it was difficult to believe that Baffert and his veterinarian did not know that betamethasone was in the medication Otomax.

“It’s on the tube,” Scollay said.

“It’s almost an aggravating circumstance at this point.”

Just two other horses in the 147-year history of the Kentucky Derby have been disqualified, according to the Associated Press.

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