Preakness Stakes 2021 Preview: Can Medina Spirit Overcome Controversy?
(CBS Baltimore) -- The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be run Saturday afternoon. Ten three-year-old colts are scheduled to run the 9.5-furlong (1 and 3/16-mile) course at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
Attention for the week leading up to the 146th running of the Preakness has mostly focused on the recent past. Medina Spirit's win at the Kentucky Derby has been called into question because of a positive drug test. While the horse is currently in the Preakness Field, trainer Bob Baffert and organizers are awaiting the results of additional tests. The first of three has already shown negative results.
Baffert initially -- and strangely -- blamed the positive test on the horse eating hay after a stable hand had consumed cough medicine and urinated in the stall. A much more plausible explanation has since surfaced. The horse had been suffering from dermatitis and was treated with anti-fungal ointment that contained some level of steroids. This has not officially been confirmed as the cause, however.
For now Medina Spirit (9-5) is among the favorites at the Preakness. The brown horse's win at the Kentucky Derby also remains under review, with a final ruling on that still weeks away. Talented and tenacious, Medina Spirit has finished second or better in each of six starts. Its win at the Kentucky Derby came by half of a length after a favorable opening allowed it to set the pace. Medina Spirit also won the month before at the Santa Anita Derby. John Velazquez will be the jockey this week, when the horse starts off in third position.
Baffert has two horses racing this week, including another favorite called Concert Tour (5-2). This horse was one of the Derby's leading contenders for a time, having looked good in its first three starts, which were all wins. And then it placed third at the Arkansas Derby. Baffert kept the horse out of the first leg to give it a better shot this week. Concert Tour, like Medina Spirit, is a pacesetter and should be fresh after not racing two weeks ago. Whether that leads to a pace dual between the two remains to be seen. Mike Smith will jockey the bay colt from the 10th starting position.
Midnight Bourbon (5-1) may be the top favorite, at least as far as the latest odds. The typical front-runner is coming off a sixth-place finish (8 1/4 lengths back) among the 18 horses in the Kentucky Derby and looks to have a better shot in this smaller field. Midnight Bourbon's relatively poor showing started with an early bump that forced it to race from behind. But it made up a lot of ground despite not running its typical race. And trainer Steve Asmussen believes it ran a better race than the finish would indicate and is in a good place this week.
"I'm very confident because of who he is physically," Asmussen said. "He's very strong physically and his energy level's been very high since the Derby, so I do think that it's helpful with him."
Midnight Bourbon ended up in the top three in each of its Derby prep races, including a win at the Lecomte Stakes. Irad Ortiz Jr. is now the jockey, after Smith moved over to Concert Tour. The horse will run out of the fifth position.
Crowded Trade (10-1), trained by Chad Brown, has three top-three finishes at Aqueduct in its short career. This stalker will be jockeyed by Javier Castellano and race out of the fourth position. Trained by Mike McCarthy, Rombauer (12-1) qualified for the field by winning the El Camino Real Derby. The closer skipped the Kentucky Derby but has four top-three finishes in its six races. Flavien Prat will ride what should be a fresh horse out of the sixth starting position.
Here is the complete field in post order, along with their opening 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 146th running of the Preakness Stakes is scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at 6:50 P.m. ET at Pimlico Race Course.
Who wins the 2021 Preakness Stakes? And which horse is a must-back? Visit SportsLine right now to get Jody Demling's Preakness Stakes winner, see which long shots to back, and get the finish positions for every single horse, all from the expert who's nailed nine Preakness winners in the last 16 years.
for more features.