In a statement issued by his lawyer, trainer BOB BAFFERT said that Kentucky Derby winner MEDINA SPIRIT was treated for dermatitis with the ointment once a day leading up to the May 1 race and that equine pharmacology experts have told him this could explain the positive test results. Baffert said the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the substance, which is typically given to horses therapeutically to help their joints and is a violation even at a trace amount on race day in Kentucky.
“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.”
Photos of Medina Spirit’s skin disease by Barbara Livingston here.
Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit, who upset 18 rivals in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs at 12-1, was installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) following Tuesday’s post-position draw at Pimlico Race Course.
The son of Protonico, who drew Post. No. 3, is scheduled to face nine other 3-year-olds in the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for Medina Spirit’s front-running half-length decision at Churchill Downs, was awarded the return mount Saturday by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Preakness a record seven times, most notably with Triple Crown champions American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018).
Gary and Mary West’s Concert Tour, who incurred his first loss in four starts while finishing third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn last time out, will also represent Baffert in the Preakness after skipping the Kentucky Derby. The homebred son of Street Sense, who will be ridden by Mike Smith for the first time, was rated second in the morning line at 5-2 after drawing Post. No. 10.
The $1 million Preakness will headline a program with 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.25 million in purses.
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Midnight Bourbon will remain on the Triple Crown Trail Saturday after finishing a troubled sixth in the Kentucky Derby, 8 ½ lengths behind Medina Spirit. The son of Tiznow is rated third in the morning line at 5-1 and will break from Post No. 5.
Midnight Bourbon finished second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds prior to his Derby run. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has enjoyed success in the Preakness Stakes twice, saddling Curlin and filly Rachel Alexandra for victories in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Irad Ortiz Jr., the defending three-time Eclipse Award winner, is scheduled to ride Midnight Bourbon for the first time.
Trainer Chad Brown, who won the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing, will saddle Klaravich Stables Inc.’s Crowded Trade and Risk Taking in search of his second success in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Crowded Trade, who finished third in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct last time out, is rated at 10-1 in the morning line, while Risk Taking, who won the Withers (G3) before finishing a disappointing seventh in the Wood Memorial, is rated at 15-1. Crowded Trade drew Post No. 4, while Risk Taking will break from Post No. 9.
John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer, who most recently finished third in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, has been shipped from Southern California for the Preakness. The son of Twirling Candy, who is rated at 12-1 in the morning line, earned a fees-paid berth in the Preakness Stakes by capturing the ‘Win & In’ El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 13. Rombauer will break from Post No. 6
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, will seek his first Preakness Stakes victory with Whisper Hill Farm LLC’s Unbridled Honor. The son of Honor Code, who finished second in the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland last time out, was rated at 15-1 in the morning line after drawing Post No. 8.
Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith and Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Keepmeinmind will join Medina Spirit and Midnight Bourbon as the only horses in the Preakness starting gate that ran in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Laoban trailed the Derby field before closing well to finish seventh. The Robertino Diodoro-trained colt, who has been winless in three starts this year after winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill last fall, is rated at 15-1 in the morning line and will break from Post. No. 2.
Yuji Inaida’s France Go de Ina, who raced three times in Japan before finishing sixth in the March 27 UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai, is rated at 20-1 in the Preakness morning line and will break from Post No. 7. The son of Will Take Charge will go to post in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown five years after Japan-based Lani finished fifth in 2016.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has saddled six Preakness winners during his Hall of Fame career, will be represented in Preakness 146 by Ram, who is slated to make his stakes debut following back-to-back victories in a $50,000 maiden claiming race at Oaklawn Park and an allowance race at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Christina Baker and William Mack’s son of American Pharoah was rated at 30-1 in the morning line after drawing the Post No. 1.
PREAKNESS S.-GI, $1,000,000, 3yo, 1 3/16m
Saturday, Pimlico, post time: 6:47 p.m. EDT
PP HORSE SIRE OWNER TRAINER JOCKEY WT
1 Ram K American Pharoah Baker, Christina and Mack, William L. Lukas Santana, Jr. 126
2 Keepmeinmind Laoban Cypress Creek Equine, Bennewith, Arnold and Diodoro Cohen 126
Spendthrift Farm LLC
3 Medina Spirit Protonico Zedan Racing Stables Baffert Velazquez 126
4 Crowded Trade K More Than Ready Klaravich Stables, Inc. Brown Castellano 126
5 Midnight Bourbon K Tiznow Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC Asmussen Ortiz, Jr. 126
6 Rombauer Twirling Candy Fradkin, John and Fradkin, Diane McCarthy Prat 126
7 France Go de Ina K Will Take Charge Yuji Inaida Mori Rosario 126
8 Unbridled Honor Honor Code Whisper Hill Farm, LLC Pletcher Saez 126
9 Risk Taking K Medaglia d’Oro Klaravich Stables, Inc. Brown Ortiz 126
10 Concert Tour Street Sense West, Gary and West, Mary Baffert Smith 126
Breeders: 1-Michael Edward Connelly, 2-Southern Equine Stables, LLC, 3-Gail Rice, 4-Forging Oaks LLC, 5-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC,6-John Fradkin & Diane Fradkin, 7-Betz, Kidder, B & K Canetti & Jim Betz, 8-Whisper Hill Farm, LLC, 9-G. Watts Humphrey Jr., 10-Gary & Mary West Stables Inc.
PREAKNESS POST-POSITION DRAW QUOTES
Zedan Racing Stables’ racing manager and bloodstock consultant Gary Young, Medina Spirit (Post No. 3; 9-5): “Post 3 won’t win the race for him and it won’t lose the race for him. We anticipate that he and Concert Tour will be 1-2 early in the race. One will be in front, one is probably going to be second – unless someone alters their plan totally. And may the best horse win, whether it be one of those two horses or one of the other eight.”
Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, Concert Tour (Post No. 10; 5-2) and Medina Spirit: “He’s a speed horse so he will get out of there and get a position and be on the outside somewhere. I think we’re fine with both our positions. They are both front-running horses, so they will probably will be up there in the clear, hopefully. He’s one that is placed forwardly in the racing. Being on the outside should be fine.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen, Midnight Bourbon (Post No. 5; 5-1): “Good draw. With dual loading, he’s second-to-last to load. Middle of the field. Good run to the first turn. Obviously, post-position draw in a 10-horse field is half as important as in a 20-horse field, but I think it gives you all the options you would ever have wanted with a talented horse.”
Trainer Chad Brown, Crowded Trade (Post No. 4; 10-1) and Risk Taking (Post No. 9; 15-1): “No major complaints. Crowded I thought drew well. I preferred him to be inside Risk Taking so at least that is accomplished. Risk Taking is out there a little bit, but there looks like there is enough speed in the race that, hopefully, the field gets strung out a little before the first turn and he can drop in. Just let Jose (Ortiz) work out his trip from there”.
Trainer Michael McCarthy, Rombauer (Post No. 6; 12-1): “It’s a good draw. A medium field size makes it easier to find our spot heading into the first turn.”
Trainer Robertino Diodoro, Keepmeinmind (Post No. 2; 15-1): “I like it. I think with his [closing] running style, the post doesn’t matter a whole bunch. But at the same time, at least we don’t have to worry about getting hung out in the middle of the racetrack, which can sometimes happen with an outside post. So I’m more than happy with the ‘2.’”
Trainer Todd Pletcher, Unbridled Honor (Post No. 8; 15-1): “I’m pleased with the ‘8.’”
Trainer Hideyuki Mori, France Go de Ina (Post No. 7; 20-1): “It’s good. He is not too far to the inside, but he also is not too far to the outside. Right before they called the No. 7, I said ‘That’s the one I want.’ And they called France Go de Ina. I could not be happier with it.”