For the first time in two years, the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing is back to its normal schedule.
The first jewel, the Kentucky Derby, was run May 1, its traditional spot on the first Saturday in May. The middle jewel, the Preakness Stakes, will be run this Saturday (the third in May) at Pimlico Race Course. And the final jewel, the Belmont Stakes, is scheduled for June 5, the third Saturday following the Preakness.
The order of the races was, of course, flipped around during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, with the Belmont Stakes being run first, in late June, the Kentucky Derby moving from May to September and the Preakness Stakes from May to October 3.
Each year, the thoroughbred racing season is made a lot more interesting if the prospect of a Triple Crown winner is on the table. This year, it would have to be surprise Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit going all the way.
However, on May 9, it was announced the Bob Baffert-trained horse tested positive for the substance betamethasone and that Baffert was suspended. "To be clear," Churchill Downs wrote in its press release, "if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit's results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner."
That leaves not only the prospect of a Triple Crown winner this season but also the entrants in the Preakness Stakes in question. Let's first break down the results of Tuesday's post-position draw and then take a closer look at the horses who will and won't be racing at Pimlico.
Preakness Stakes Post Positions and Odds
1. Ram (30-1)
2. Keepmeinmind (15-1)
3. Medina Spirit (9-5)
4. Crowded Trade (10-1)
5. Midnight Bourbon (5-1)
6. Rombauer (12-1)
7. France Go de Ina (20-1)
8. Unbridled Honor (15-1)
9. Risk Taking (15-1)
10. Concert Tour (5-2)
The Preakness Stakes draw had originally been scheduled for Monday but was moved to Tuesday given the investigation into Medina Spirit's Derby draw.
The controversy surrounding the 21 picograms of betamethasone found in Medina Spirit's postrace sample has cast a pall over Baffert's legacy, as he became the winningest trainer in the history of the Derby with his seventh win on May 1.
Baffert has not made matters easier on himself, continuing to point the finger at others and change his story. Initially, Baffert said Medina Spirit's sample could have come from hay in his stall contaminated by urine from a groom, who had taken cold medicine containing betamethasone.
Then, Tuesday, Baffert released a statement attributing the test results to an ointment Medina Spirit took for dermatitis.
Medina Spirit is entered in the Preakness Stakes and drew the No. 3 post position. However, Baffert said he will not travel to Pimlico on Saturday.
Baffert also said he wants Medina Spirit to run a good race because everybody is "piling on him," according to the Associated Press' Gary B. Graves. "It's probably more pressure now that he's got to run well," Baffert added.
Medina Spirit is the fifth horse trained by Baffert to have failed a drug test in over a year.
If Medina Spirit's Derby win is vacated, there will be no Triple Crown winner possible this season, as Mandaloun is not entered in the Preakness Stakes.
Another Baffert-trained horse, Concert Tour, has 5-2 odds heading into Saturday's race and drew the No. 10 post. Another favorite, Midnight Bourbon at 5-1, also ran the Kentucky Derby at the beginning of the month.