Looks like Medina Spirit outran Cancel Culture after all.
Two days after the revelation that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a regulated substance, and one day after trainer Bob Baffert claimed the horse was a victim of "cancel culture," and hours after Baffert admitted that the horse was in fact treated with the drug ... Medina Spirit is going to run in the Preakness this weekend after all.
“I am pleased to report that we have reached an agreement that will allow Medina Spirit and Concert Tour to run in the Preakness Stakes,” W. Craig Robertson III, Baffert's attorney, announced Tuesday. Concert Tour, another Baffert-trained horse, did not run in the Kentucky Derby.
Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby win is still very much in doubt, given the fact that Baffert conceded Tuesday morning that the horse had been treated with an ointment that contains betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory medication. Betamethasone is not illegal, but horses may not be treated with it within 14 days of a race.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, Baffert conceded that an ointment applied to the horse right up until race day contained betamethasone. But Baffert claimed ignorance of the medication's origins, and also charged that the medication would have had no effect even if it was present in the amount claimed.
"First, I had no knowledge of how betamethasone could have possibly found its way into Medina Spirit (until now), and this has never been a case of attempting to game the system or get an unfair advantage," Baffert said in his Tuesday statement. "Second, horse racing must address its regulatory problem when it comes to substances which can innocuously find their way into a horse's system at the picogram (which is a trillionth of a gram) level. Medina Spirit earned his Kentucky Derby win, and my pharmacologists have told me that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the outcome of the race."
Shortly after the initial positive test was announced, 1/ST Racing and the Maryland Jockey Club, which administer the Preakness, announced in a statement that they would defer a decision on the horse's eligibility for the race.
"1/ST RACING and MJC intend to review the relevant facts and information relating to the reported medication positive as a result of the post-race blood sample testing," the statement read in part. "We are consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission and any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts."
Baffert's attorney framed the weekend's events as Baffert allowing the horses to be tested prior to races at Pimlico. “In the best interest of horse racing, and the integrity of the sport, Mr. Baffert consents to blood testing, monitoring and medical record review by the Maryland Jockey Club on the horse Medina Spirit, and two other horses trained by Mr. Baffert,” Robertson wrote to Alan M. Rifkin, counsel for the Maryland Jockey Club.
“Medina Spirit and Concert Tour are presently entered in the Preakness Stakes and Beautiful Gift is presently entered in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes," Robertson wrote. "If any of the three horses test positive for a banned substance, or at a level for a permitted therapeutic substance which is above the designated limit, or if reasonable conditions warrant after MJC’s review of the medical or administrative records, Mr. Baffert, or MJC on his behalf, will scratch that horse from the upcoming race in which that horse is entered this weekend at Pimlico."
The Preakness Stakes is scheduled to run at 6:50 Eastern this Saturday.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.
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