Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit was released to compete in Preakness stakes after undergoing three drug tests, the Maryland Jockey Club said on Friday. The ad comes after the horse positive result for the steroid betamethasone in a sample taken after Derby, which plunged the racing world into chaos.
Medina Spirit and two other horses from coach Bob Buffert have gone through three rounds of blood tests in recent days as a prerequisite for racing this weekend at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. All three horses were allowed to compete, the jockey club said. Medina Spirit and the concert tour will be held at Preakness, while Beautiful Gift will be wearing George E. Mitchell’s Black-Eyed Susan stakes.
The controversy surrounding Medina Spirit began on Sunday when Buffert announced that the horse had failed a post-race doping test. Buffert said he was told that 21 picograms of betamethasone were found in the horse, double the Kentucky statutory threshold, the Associated Press reported.
Churchill Downs, the racetrack that hosts the Kentucky Derby, dismissed Buffert and said it would nullify Medina Spirit’s victory if the post-race test results are confirmed.
Buffet denied using a steroid on a horse on Sunday, but said Tuesday that Medina Spirit was being treated with ointment which contained betamethasone a few days before Derby.
“While we do not know conclusively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in the blood sample after the Medina Spirit race, and our investigation is ongoing, equine pharmacology experts told me this could explain the test results,” Buffert said in a statement. “So I wanted to be direct about this fact as soon as I found out about this information.”
“Medina Spirit is a well deserved champion and I will continue to fight for him,” he added.
This isn’t the first time Buffert and his horses have come under scrutiny. His horses have been marked by at least 30 medication disorders in his four decades of racing. Some violations were overturned on appeal.
Zoe Kristen Jones and David Begno provided reporting.
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