Muth, 2024 Preakness favorite, scratched from field at Pimlico – USA TODAY

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Bob Baffert trainee Muth, who was slated to be the favorite in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, has been scratched after spiking a fever. 

“We are sick about this,” Baffert told reporters. “The horse had been doing really well. But we have to do what’s right by the horse.” 

Muth’s defection means Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan will likely go off as the favorite in the field of eight as he looks to keep his Triple Crown bid alive. Baffert, who has won the Preakness eight times, still has one other entry in Santa Anita Derby runner-up Imagination. 

Muth, who won the Arkansas Derby (and beat Mystik Dan) impressively on March 30, was not allowed to run in the Kentucky Derby due to Baffert’s suspension from Churchill Downs. Muth’s owner, Amr Zedan, filed a lawsuit in hopes of getting Muth into the starting gate but was ultimately unsuccessful and decided to wait for the Preakness. 

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Baffert was initially suspended for two years by Churchill due to Medina Spirit’s positive test for betamethasone following his win in the 2021 Kentucky Derby and other medication infractions near the same timeline. Baffert has maintained that the betamethasone got into the horse’s system through a cream used to treat a skin infection and denies that he has doped horses. 

Churchill Downs unilaterally decided last year that Baffert’s suspension would be extended to a third Kentucky Derby. Critics of the decision suspected that the racetrack did not want Baffert to be the center of attention for the landmark 150th running of the race. 

Mystik Dan instead won the Derby as a 16-to-1 longshot, scraping the rail on the far turn under jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr., to take the lead and then holding off Sierra Leone and Forever Young in a thrilling photo finish. 

Following the race, trainer Ken McPeek was noncommittal about whether Mystik Dan would contest the Preakness given the short two-week turnaround between races. But ultimately, after a series of gallops at Churchill, McPeek decided that Mystik Dan was in good enough form to ship to Baltimore. 

Now, he will headline a field that includes just two other Derby starters in fourth-place Catching Freedom and Just Steel, who finished 17th. 

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