Preakness chatter all about Baffert, test failed

BALTIMORE – Even though Bob Baffert isn’t at Pimlico Race Course this week, his shadow hangs over Preakness, Triple Crown and horse racing.

It should have been another celebration of Baffert, the face of the sport with two Triple Crown triumphs on his resume, after a thwarted Kentucky Derby win and in search of a record-breaking eighth win from Preakness. Instead, Derby winner Medina Spirit, who failed a post-race drug test for the steroid betamethasone, put Baffert and the sport in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

“The whole atmosphere here has changed,” rival coach and friend D. Wayne Lukas said on Wednesday. “The enthusiasm, the feeling of excitement isn’t there. That’s what’s bad for the industry there.”

Lukas tried to convince Baffert to travel to Baltimore for the Preakness in order to prepare Medina Spirit and Concert Tour. Instead, Baffert’s horses are under the watchful eye of assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes and officials from the Maryland Racing Commission, who set the conditions for additional testing and supervision to get them allowed to race. Saturday.

If three sets of tests come back without a hitch, Medina Spirit will likely be favored in the Preakness and, if successful, would be two-thirds of the way to Baffert’s third triple crown in six years – albeit with a giant asterisk.

“It certainly changed the dynamics of Preakness dramatically,” said Randy Moss, analyst at NBC Sports. “It started with a warm and fuzzy welfare story about a stubborn $ 1,000 yearling who sort of defied the odds of winning the Kentucky Derby in the depths of where no one in horse racing does. love to see it go. “

Rather than holding the court in front of Pimlico’s stake barn in his sunglasses and chatting with Lukas, Barnes ended a short interview after responding “without comment” to the question of whether Medina Spirit was. still being treated for a skin condition, which resulted in the horse being given an antifungal ointment which Baffert said was a possible source of the steroid.

Many others, however, want to talk about the drug violation, Baffert’s fifth in just over a year.

Animal Wellness Action activist Marty Irby said, “Baffert should be extremely careful with all substances that enter horses under his control” and recommended a zero tolerance policy for drug violations.

While not intentional doping with performance-enhancing drugs such as the charges against indicted coaches Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro, it is another stain on Baffert’s record who in the at best, shows that his barn is not paying enough attention to medication. given to top notch racehorses.

“The fact that he didn’t know and didn’t want it to be in the horse, that doesn’t change for a moment the fact that it was in the horse,” said Dr Mary Scollay, CEO of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium. “Just because he didn’t want to break the rule doesn’t mean he didn’t break a rule.”

Baffert promised in November to “do better”, hiring a veterinarian for additional monitoring and saying, “I intend to do everything possible to make sure that I no longer receive complaints about the drugs.”

Then he performed on the biggest horse racing scene.

“Somehow we’re there again,” Moss said. “A lot of people in the race are scratching their heads as to why this would happen to one guy over and over again.”

Lukas said Baffert was “struck by circumstances beyond control”. While Irby and others cite the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act that comes into effect in July 2022 as an opportunity to better control drugs in horses, the Hall of Fame trainer, the 85-year-old thinks she should raise the “realistic” threshold for therapeutic drugs above the 21 picograms for which Medina Spirit has tested positive.

Medina Spirit will be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby if a second test also comes back positive.

Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit is bathed after a pre-Preakness Stakes workout ahead of the Preakness Stakes horse race at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez, top left, takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness Medina Spirit competitor to the track for a workout before the Preakness Stakes horse race at the Pimlico Race Course, Wednesday 12 May 2021, in Baltimore.  (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez, top left, takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness Medina Spirit competitor to the track for a workout before the Preakness Stakes horse race at the Pimlico Race Course, Wednesday 12 May 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit is bathed after a workout before the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race at Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore.  (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit is bathed after a workout before the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race at Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit on the track in a pre-preakness Stakes horse race workout at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore.  (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit on the track in a pre-preakness Stakes horse race workout at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit is bathed after a workout before the Preakness Stakes horse race at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore.  (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit is bathed after a workout before the Preakness Stakes horse race at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit on the track in a pre-preakness Stakes horse race workout at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore.  (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit on the track in a pre-preakness Stakes horse race workout at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit on the track in a pre-preakness Stakes horse race workout at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore.  (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness participant Medina Spirit on the track in a pre-preakness Stakes horse race workout at the Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

Jockey John Velazquez, left, watches coach Bob Baffert holding up the winner's trophy after his victory with Medina Spirit in the 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday May 1, 2021 in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo / Jeff Roberson)

Jockey John Velazquez, left, watches coach Bob Baffert holding up the winner’s trophy after his victory with Medina Spirit in the 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday May 1, 2021 in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo / Jeff Roberson)


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