UPDATE: Medina Spirit drug test confirmed; Derby win in jeopardy

Sports

Jockey John Velazquez, left, watches as trainer Bob Baffert holds up the winner’s trophy after they victory with Medina Spirit in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

WEDNESDAY 6/2/2021 10:48 a.m.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Bob Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer.

Attorney Craig Robertson said the test showed 25 picograms of the steroid, after 21 were found initially. Even a trace amount of betamethasone is prohibited on race day in Kentucky and considered a violation.

Robertson said additional testing is being conducted to try to trace the source of the drug to an ointment to treat a skin infection and not an injection.

“At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax,” he said. “We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Sherelle Roberts-Pierre said the commission “values fairness and transparency and will provide information to the media and public at the close of an investigation.”

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, Mandaloun would be elevated as the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert is currently suspended by New York and not allowed to enter any horses in the Belmont Stakes pending the Derby investigation.

UPDATE: Churchill Downs suspends Baffert after failed drug test

SUNDAY 5/9/2021 11:24 a.m.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Churchill Downs suspended trainer Bob Baffert from entering horses at the track and suggested that it would invalidate Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby victory if the results of a failed postrace drug test are upheld.

The track said in a statement Sunday that failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport’s integrity and the Derby’s reputation.

“Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” the statement said. “Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner.”

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer’s Image in 1968.

Churchill Downs’ announcement comes after Baffert announced the failed drug test, which he vowed to fight “tooth and nail.” Medina Spirit is Baffert’s fifth horse to fail a drug test in a year.

ORIGINAL: Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed postrace drug test, trainer says

SUNDAY 5/9/2021 10:39 a.m.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday that his barn has been told Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test, the latest doping scandal for horse racing and arguably the sport’s premier trainer.

Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson in a morning news conference at Churchill Downs on Sunday, Baffert said Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone, double the legal threshold in Kentucky racing, in a post-race sample.

That is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September.

Baffert denied any wrongdoing and said he did not know how Medina Spirit could have tested positive. He said Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone and called it “a complete injustice.”

John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit throws a rose after his victory in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing, for something I didn’t do,” said Baffert, who vowed to be transparent with racing investigators.

Baffert said his camp received the word of the positive test from Kentucky officials on Saturday. Baffert said Medina Spirit has not yet been officially disqualified from the Kentucky Derby, though that still could happen after other tests and processes are completed.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” Baffert said. “There’s a problem somewhere. It didn’t come from us.”

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby on May 1 by a half-length over Mandaloun, giving Baffert his record-setting seventh victory in the race that starts the Triple Crown season. Medina Spirit is still expected to race in the Preakness, the Triple Crown’s second jewel, on Saturday.

“He ran a gallant race,” Baffert said.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission, which had suspended him for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at Oaklawn Park on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for lidocaine, a painkiller, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

“There’s problems in racing,” Baffert said. “But it’s not Bob Baffert.”

John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit leads Florent Geroux on Mandaloun, Flavien Prat riding Hot Rod Charlie and Luis Saez on Essential Quality to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The New York Times said in November 2020 that Baffert-trained horses have failed at least 29 drug tests in his four-decade career.

“I’m worried about our sport,” Baffert said. “Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.”


AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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