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Medina Spirit cleared to race in the Preakness Stakes after passing drug tests

John Velazquez, right, rides Medina Spirit ahead of Florent Geroux aboard Mandaloun to win the 147th Kentucky Derby in Louisville.
AP via CNN
John Velazquez, right, rides Medina Spirit ahead of Florent Geroux aboard Mandaloun to win the 147th Kentucky Derby in Louisville.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit can race in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes after the final two rounds of blood samples from the horse were deemed clear, officials said Friday.

All three of trainer Bob Baffert’s horses scheduled to run at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, passed their drug tests.

Medina Spirit and Concert Tour are set to race on Saturday in the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Beautiful Gift ran in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes but finished well back of the winner.

The horses underwent three rounds of blood-sample testing between May 6 and May 11 and the tests showed the animals were clear of both prohibited and therapeutic substances, officials said.

Baffert is currently not allowed to race horses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, after a post-Derby drug test revealed a therapeutic in Medina Spirit’s system that isn’t allowed to be there on race day.

A lab is retesting a portion of that blood sample and results are expected to take at least four weeks.

Baffert, who is not attending the races in Baltimore, agreed with race organizers for the horses to be subject to three rounds of out-of-competition blood sample testing as a prerequisite to racing.

“Consistent with the fair procedures and practices established by 1/ST RACING and (the Maryland Jockey Club), the additional tests and monitoring were conducted as part of the rigorous condition of entry agreement to ensure the fairness and integrity of the races with horses entered by Baffert,” the groups said in a statement.

Medina Spirit, who won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago in a close finish, is the betting favorite in the 10-horse Preakness field.

On Sunday, Baffert revealed the horse had tested positive for elevated levels of betamethasone — an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid sometimes used to relieve joint pain in horses — putting the 3-year-old colt’s Derby win in jeopardy.

Should the positive blood sample be confirmed, second-place finisher Mandaloun will be crowned the winner. The two horses were separated by half a length at the finish line on May 1.

Baffert later provided a lengthy statement on what he said happened regarding Medina Spirit.

“Following the Santa Anita Derby, Medina Spirit developed dermatitis on his hind end. I had him checked out by my veterinarian who recommended the use of an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax. The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis and prevent it from spreading,” part of Baffert’s statement reads.

“While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit’s post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results. As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information,” the statement adds.

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