The return of the Preakness Stakes to its normal spot on the calendar has been overshadowed by a drug scandal involving Medina Spirit, the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Despite failing a drug test following the colt’s Derby victory earlier this month, Medina Spirit will be allowed to race Saturday afternoon, but Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won’t travel to Baltimore for the race.
» READ MORE: Preakness Stakes odds, trivia, and weather
“It certainly has altered the dynamic of the Preakness considerably,” NBC analyst Randy Moss told the Associated Press. “It’s gone from a warm and fuzzy, feel-good story about a tenacious $1,000 yearling who somehow defied the odds to win the Kentucky Derby into the depths of where no one in horse racing likes to see it go.”
It’s unclear what impact the controversy will have on TV ratings. The Kentucky Derby drew 15.7 million viewers, and casual viewers watch the Preakness to find out if there will be a Triple Crown winner. But with Medina Spirit favored, NBC faces the prospect of a shadow hanging over both the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown.
NBC hopes the race will draw a sizable audience that stays to watch Game 1 of the first round of the NHL playoffs between the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins, which airs immediately following the Preakness Stakes.
What time does the Preakness Stakes start?
NBC’s live coverage will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern, hosted by Mike Tirico. The race will post at 6:47 p.m., and will stream on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com. Early coverage will begin at noon on NBC Sports Network.
When: Saturday, May 15
Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore
Post time: 6:47 p.m. Eastern
Host: Mike Tirico
Race caller: Larry Collmus
Streaming: NBC Sports app
Tirico also will be joined by analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey, longtime handicapper Eddie Olczyk, and a host of reporters.
Fresh off successfully predicting the winner of the Kentucky Derby (sealed with a $100 bet), MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki will once again join the race broadcast for a fresh look at odds changes during the day and which horses may be getting support in the run-up to the race.
Kornacki, who just got a new deal that will make him and his khakis a regular fixture on NBC Sports events such as Sunday Night Football and the Olympics, said this week the best bet may be an exacta bet (where you predict the first two horses in the official finish order) on Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, a horse also trained by Baffert.
“I hate betting favorites. ... If Concert Tour was trained by anybody else, I might be thinking about this race differently,” Kornacki said earlier this week on the Bet the Edge podcast. “I think the potential for Concert Tour and for Medina Spirit to get into a suicidal speed duel, I think would be real.”
The 10 horses and their odds of winning
Medina Spirit (9-5)
Crowded Trade (10-1)
Midnight Bourbon (5-1)
France Go De Ina (20-1)
Unbridled Honor (15-1)
Risk Taking (15-1)
Concert Tour (5-2)
For more details, my colleague Ed Barkowitz has a breakdown of each horse, complete with their jockeys, career earnings, and 2021 stats.
Triple Crown Dates
Kentucky Derby: Saturday, May 1 — winner Medina Spirit
Preakness Stakes: Saturday, May 15; Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore (NBC)
Belmont Stakes: Saturday, June 5; Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. (NBC)