After the 2020 postponement until October due to the Covid pandemic, this year’s Preakness Stakes returns to its traditional place, 2 weeks after the Kentucky Derby and 3 weeks before the Belmont Stakes. Middle child syndrome certainly does not apply to this year’s middle gem of the Triple Crown series. The public spotlight shines more brightly than ever on the racing world.
Thoroughbred racing has been highly scrutinized driven by public concerns over issues of safety and oversight. Running counts of horse deaths on the track have stirred political and industry regulatory modifications. Continued doping issues have also plagued the sport most recently with this year’s Derby. Winner, Medina Spirit, failed a drug test and trainer Bob Baffert was subsequently suspended from racing any horse at Churchill Downs. Medina Spirit was the 5th Baffert horse to fail a drug test in the past year. Buffers denies knowledge of the incident. Medina Spirit’s Derby win stands pending results from a second test due within a few weeks.
Tuesday it was announced that Medina Spirit along with two other Baffert horses will be permitted to race this weekend pending special conditions. Baffert’s 3 horses will race without Baffert in attendance and pending pre-race testing. If test results are positive, Baffert has agreed to scratch the horse.
Wednesday post positions were drawn for the 10 thoroughbreds who will run 1 3/16 mile this Saturday. The coveted Woodlawn Vase will be awarded to the winner along with a $1 million purse. While this year’s field will race without female influence – no fillies, no female jockeys or trainers – there are many female footnotes in the Preakness’s history.