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Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit fails drug test, Churchill Downs suspends Baffert

Date published: May 9, 2021, 09: 27 hrs.

Last updated: May 9, 2021, 10: 52 h.

Steve Bittenbender

Medina Spirit, the gunman who gave trainer Bob Baffert a record seventh Kentucky Derby victory, tested positive for excessive betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid, after the race. 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. A few hours later, Baffert won his record seventh Kentucky Derby when Medina Spirit captured the Run for the Roses. On Sunday, Baffert announced that his foal tested positive for betamethasone. (Photo credit: Coady Photography / Churchill Downs)

Two hours after Baffert's press conference, Churchill Downs issued a statement saying it had stopped the Hall of Fame trainer from submitting horses to race at the Louisville track for the time being.

"Failure to follow treatment rules and protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate in it. Churchill Downs will not tolerate this...We will wait until the Kentucky Racing Commission's investigation is complete before taking further action," the track said.

KHRC conducted a test on Medina Spirit on Derby Day , according to a statement early Sunday afternoon. Those results came back Friday. Baffert told reporters that one of his assistants was notified of the results Saturday.

Baffert will appeal the results. The sample taken on Derby Day was split into two samples. The remaining sample will now be tested on appeal.

"During the investigation, both the trainer and the horse owner will be given due process and an opportunity to appeal," said Marc Guilfoil , executive director of the commission. "Therefore, the KHRC will not be making any further comment at this time."

If the split sample confirms the first test, then Medina Spirit faces disqualification. That would mean that Mandaloun, another longshot who finished just half a length back, becomes the official winner.

The result will not affect betting payouts

Had that happened, it would have been the second overturned result in the last three runs, having been disqualified by the Stewards after a lengthy post-race assessment two years ago.

In 1968 Dancer's Image won the Kentucky Derby and received a garland of roses after the race. However, it was determined a day later that he failed a drug test. This set off a years-long on-court battle that eventually led to second-place Forward Pass being declared the Derby winner.

Unlike the 2019 Derby, when stewards disqualified Maximum Security before the race was officially announced, any disqualification of Medina Spirit would not have changed the peer payouts. Medina Spirit paid $ 26. 20 to win, $ 12 to place and $7. 60 showdown. Mandaloun paid $ 23 and $ 13. 40. exactly 2 $ paid $ 503. 60.

Baffert in disbelief

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

Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone, "he told reporters outside his barn at Churchill Downs. "I can't believe I'm here in front of you guys. I never would have thought I would be here. "

While he is often considered one of the best trainers of all time, this is not the first time Baffert has faced allegations and positive tests. He has had several positive tests, including just last month when the Arkansas Racing Commission reversed the disqualifications of Baffert's horses Charlatan and Gamine for victories they earned at Oaklawn Park last year. In that 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 suspension, but the commission fined him $1, 500.

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

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

Earlier this year, the California Horse Racing Board decided to uphold its decision not to disqualify Justify after determining that he and other horses were later found to have been inadvertently exposed to the jimson weed that caused the infection.


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