Derby Winner Medina Spirit Fails Drug Test, Churchill Suspends Baffert

Posted on: May 9, 2021, 09:27h. 

Last updated on: May 9, 2021, 09:30h.

Medina Spirit, the longshot who gave trainer Bob Baffert his record-setting seventh Kentucky Derby win, tested positive after the race for an excessive amount of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid. Baffert made the announcement Sunday morning and denied the allegations.

Baffert Derby
Trainer Bob Baffert (center, black coat) celebrates his record 220th career Grade 1 victory on May 1 after Gamine wins the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs. Hours later, Baffert would win his record seventh Kentucky Derby when Medina Spirit claimed the Run for the Roses. On Sunday, Baffert announced his colt tested positive for betamethasone. (Image: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs)

Two hours after Baffert’s press conference, Churchill Downs issued a statement saying it suspended the hall of fame trainer from entering horses for races at the Louisville track for the time being.

“Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it… We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions’ investigation before taking further steps,” the track said.

Baffert in Disbelief

Baffert met with reporters outside his barn Sunday morning and strenuously defended his stable and his newest Kentucky Derby winner.

Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone,” he told reporters outside his barn at Churchill Downs. “I cannot believe that I’m here before you guys. I’d never thought I’d be here.”

While often considered one of the best trainers ever, this is not the first time Baffert has faced allegations and positive tests. He has had several positive test results overturned, including just last month when the Arkansas Racing Commission reversed disqualifications against Baffert horses Charlatan and Gamine from wins they had at Oaklawn Park last year. In this case, the trainer also avoided a 15-day suspension, but the Commission still fined him $10,000.

And earlier this year, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission officially disqualified Gamine from her third-place finish in last year’s Kentucky Oaks – also held at Churchill Downs – after a post-race test also found excessive amounts of betamethasone.

Baffert avoided a suspension, but the commission did fine him $1,500.

On the same day that Medina Spirit won the Derby, Gamine came back to Churchill Downs and won the Derby City Distaff. With that win, Baffert also earned his 220th Grade 1 stakes win, setting a new record for trainers.

There’s also the case of another Kentucky Derby winner, Justify. More than a year after he won the Triple Crown, reports surfaced that he and other horses tested positive scopolamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby. Justify needed that victory in order to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

Earlier this year, the California Horse Racing Board decided to uphold the decision not to disqualify Justify after it was determined he and the other horses after it was determined the horses were inadvertently exposed to jimson weed, which caused the contamination.


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