Preakness Stakes preview: Do we believe in Medina Spirit?

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All the talk leading up to the 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday revolves around Medina Spirit, and rightfully so.

The Kentucky Derby winner tested positive for the anti-inflammatory betamethasone and could be stripped of his Churchill Downs victory if a second test comes back positive. But the results of that second test will take weeks.

So Bob Baffert, the horse’s legendary trainer who has a history of horses testing positive for banned substances, reached a deal with Maryland horse racing regulators to allow Medina Spirit to run the Preakness by undergoing "rigorous testing and monitoring."

Makes sense, right? Yeah, well, not to us either.

But either way Medina Spirit, the 9-5 favorite in the 10-horse field, will be tough to beat.

Exercise rider Humberto Gomez, top left, takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness entrant Medina Spirit to the track for a training session ahead of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Exercise rider Humberto Gomez, top left, takes Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness entrant Medina Spirit to the track Wednesday for a training session ahead of the Preakness Stakes. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Still, there are concerns. Medina Spirit isn’t a big horse. The colt is slighter in stature compared to some of the other horses in the field. The colt ran the race of his life at the Derby — perhaps with some, um, help — and there is a physical toll. Can we count on him again?

We’ll be looking at two other horses on Saturday: Midnight Bourbon (5-1) and Concert Tour (5-2).

Midnight Bourbon got bumped early and got off to a rough start in the Kentucky Derby, but rallied for a sixth-place finish. Now in a much smaller 10-horse field, Midnight Bourbon should have an easier time and could be primed to roll.

Concert Tour is trained by Baffert, and you can’t count him out. He’s been a bit inconsistent, but the Rebel Stakes winner has the goods to deliver a win.

Do you like longer odds?

If you are looking for more value there are some horses with longer odds that have paths to victory.

Rombauer (12-1) and Keepmeinmind (15-1) are speed horses who could set the pace. At 1 3/16 miles — shorter than the Derby at 1 ¼ — the question will be if they can hold on. But if they run their best race they could top a field that isn’t considered a strong one.

Official pick

Midnight Bourbon (5-1): We like trainer Steve Asmussen to get his third career Preakness Stakes victory if Midnight Bourbon gets a clean start.

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