Bob Baffert has to answer more questions about how he trains horses
Whilst sitting on my sofa Sunday watching another of my favorite pastimes - Grand Prix Racing - I was scrolling through Twitter and saw the Medina Spirit news. I would say I was shocked but it would be fair to say that I was pretty numb to the news. Seeing a Bob Baffert horse fail a drug test is not exactly Earth-shattering news these days and that alone is part of the problem that Horse Racing has.
Friends who have gambled on the horses for years tell me that they find plenty of what goes on unsettling. It is similar to how many feel about Olympians these days - who can you trust and are you ever watching a fair event? Baseball had this problem a decade or so back when people really started to talk about steroids.
Everyone kind of just ignored it when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were hitting Home Runs left, right and center. Most didn't even care that Barry Bonds' head had significantly grown and Roger Clemens suddenly looked like he'd turned back the clock. It made the sport all the more compelling but then at some point people did start to care and that is when things had to change. More stringent drug-testing came in and violations were treated with real suspensions.
I feel as though we are starting to get to that point with Horse Racing. I watched Gamine blow away the field in the Grade I Acorn last year and thought she was the best female sprint horse I'd seen for an awfully long time. Yes this came off the back of a failed drug test at Oaklawn but I still just watched and went 'wow'. Was I just being naive though? Did that phenomenal run come from her or was it something else?
Going into the big Prep Races for the Kentucky Derby, I thought Life is Good was the class of the field and it wasn't particularly close. Being a Bob Baffert horse, now I just have to question whether or not he was just that good.
When you aren't entirely sure you are watching a sporting spectacle - no matter the sport - that is not set up that every participant is playing on a level playing field then you to start to lose interest. It is only natural. Bob Baffert - rightly or wrongly - now has that stigma hanging around both his neck - and those of the horses he trains. Yes, I fully understand the need for the split sample to be tested and for all the legal ramifications to play out but if Medina Spirit is allowed to enter Preakness 146 and takes his place in the Starting Gate - if he wins then will anyone care?
The Maryland Jockey Club have pushed back the Post Position draw to 4PM EST on Tuesday as they wrestle with the question of what they do with both Medina Spirit and Bob Baffert. If he's banned from entering his horses then what happens to Concert Tour? Suddenly the Preakness becomes wide open and do any trainers and connections make a dramatic last-second decision to send their horses to Pimlico in an attempt to win a race with few bonafide top quality three-year-olds in?
Many questions remain but the sport of Horse Racing already has a poor perception with large swathes of the country - this Medina Spirit news just adds to it and should he race on - potentially for the Triple Crown - I'm sure it'll be a turn off for many.
We will be covering the Post Position draw on Tuesday and have horse-by-horse analysis for all the runners in Preakness 146 on Wednesday. Check out our Preakness hub for all the latest. Link below...