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Preakness Stakes to run amid Medina Spirit drug controversy

The 146th Annual Preakness Stakes, the second installment of horse racing’s famed Triple Crown, took place on Saturday amid controversy over failed drug test after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s race .

The Maryland Jockey Club, which runs the Preakness, said Friday the Bob Baffert-trained colt passed all drug tests before the event at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Organizers had reached a deal with Baffert, the Southern California-based trainer who won a record seven Kentucky Derby races, to test the colt ahead of Saturday’s race. The concert tour and Beautiful Gift of horses trained by Baffert also underwent three rounds of tests, the jockey club said on Thursday.

However, testing at Colorado industrial labs and the University of California at Davis’s Maddy lab did not quell critics.

“The status quo remains, and it’s business as usual in Baltimore,” Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said in a statement Saturday.

“American horse racing continues to be marred by scandal after scandal and the decision to allow Medina Spirit to participate in the 146th Preakness Stakes today is no exception,” he said.

PETA has weighed in on the controversy on Twitter.

“Any trainer who dope horses cheats and risks a lawsuit,” the animal welfare group tweeted.

A group of Kentucky Derby punters filed a class action lawsuit against Baffert in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday. He alleges “a pattern of racketeering activity” in horse racing.

“Baffert’s multiple and repeated acts of illegal doping and entry of horses into thoroughbred races in the state of California and elsewhere has been a pattern of racketeering activity,” the file said.

Baffert’s lawyer Craig Robertson said in an email that “the lawsuit is completely frivolous and has no legal merit. We will act quickly to dismiss it.”

On Tuesday, Baffert said Medina Spirit was treated for dermatitis with a topical ointment called Otomax, which contains breed-banned betamethasone, triggering the positive drug test.

Kentucky Derby organizers have suspended the coach and said if the test results hold, Medina Spirit will be disqualified and the second Derby winner Mandaloun will be declared the new Derby winner.

The publish time for The Preakness is 6:47 p.m. ET, and the race will air on NBC. At the start, punters made Medina Spirit a 9-5 favorite in the 10-horse field.

David K. Li, Diana dasrath and Juliet Arcodia contributed.

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