Coach Bob Baffert said on Sunday morning that Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone after winning the Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs, a result which could ultimately lead to the horse’s disqualification.
Baffert disputed the positive test result of 21 picograms, claiming that Medina Spirit “has never been treated with betamethasone,” which is an anti-inflammatory drug.
According to Kentucky Horse Racing Commission rules, a second positive test – called a “split sample” – is required before a horse can be disqualified.
Baffert said he did not know when the split sample result will be available. Marc Guilfoil, executive director of KHRC, said the positive test result was received on Friday.
“During the investigation, the trainer and owner of the horse will be entitled to due process and the opportunity to appeal,” Guilfoil said. “Therefore, the KHRC will not provide further comments at this time.”
Churchill Downs has confirmed finalist Mandaloun will be declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby if Medina Spirit’s positive test results are confirmed.
Mandaloun coach Brad Cox, a Louisville native, declined to comment.
Although the use of betamethasone is licensed in Kentucky for therapeutic purposes, any positive result on race day is a violation. New rules came into effect last August that replaced a threshold of 10 picograms per milliliter with the more stringent “detection limit”, a standard triggered by the lowest amount of a substance that can be confidently distinguished. of the absence of this substance.
Baffert called the positive test “total injustice,” saying Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone. He said he will conduct his own investigation and comply with the KHRC.
“Yesterday I had the biggest boost in the race for something I didn’t do,” said Baffert. “It’s annoying. It is an injustice to the horse.
“I have no idea where this came from. We can’t believe it’s in there.
“Medina Spirit connections have the right to request a split sample test and we understand they intend to do so,” the statement said. “To be clear, if the results are confirmed, the results of Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner.”
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Additionally, the trail suspended Baffert from entering horses at Churchill Downs, with immediate effect.
Baffert said he still plans to enter Medina Spirit in Saturday’s Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore.
“He’s still the Derby winner,” Baffert said, “but we have to go through this process.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Maryland Jockey Club said it is “consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission, and any decision regarding Medina Spirit’s entry into the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after consideration of the facts.”
The Preakness draw is scheduled for Monday noon.
After Baffert held a press conference on Sunday morning at Barn 33 at the back of Churchill Downs, the track issued a statement that it was immediately suspending the trainer from entering horses there.
“Failure to follow medication 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 said in the communicated. “Churchill Downs will not tolerate it.”
Medina Spirit’s victory gave Baffert his seventh Kentucky Derby victory, mostly breaking a tie with Ben Jones by a coach in the race’s 147-year history.
But the Hall of Fame coach has spent much of the past year fighting state racing commissions and has been fined four for drug-related offenses in the past 12 months.
Last month, the Arkansas Racing Commission unanimously voted to lift Baffert’s 15-day suspension and restore the rankings of his two horses (Charlatan and Gamine) who tested positive for lidocaine on the day of the Arkansas Derby last year.
It was the third time in three months that Baffert had emerged virtually unscathed from drug cases before state commissions. Previously, the California Horse Racing Board had confirmed Justify’s controversial victory at the Santa Anita Derby in 2018 and the KHRC had used its discretion to spare Baffert a suspension for Gamine’s positive test after last year’s Kentucky Oaks.
Baffert has always denied any wrongdoing.
“I don’t feel safe to train, and it’s getting worse,” he says. “How can I move forward from this knowing that something like this can happen?” It is a total injustice. But I’m going to fight it tooth and nail because I owe it to the horse, I owe it to the owner and I owe it to our industry. Our industry needs to step up and we need to do a better job in racing. …
“I am not a conspiracy (theorist). Not everyone is there to look for me. But there is definitely something wrong. Why is this happening to me? There are problems in the race, but it’s not Bob Baffert.
Only once has a Kentucky Derby winner been disqualified due to a drug violation.
In 1968 Dancer’s Image finished first and Forward Pass came second. But after the discovery of phenylbutazone in a post-race urinalysis from Dancer’s Image, Forward Pass was declared the winner. After nearly four years of litigation, Kentucky’s highest court upheld the KHRC’s decision.
Tim Sullivan contributed to this story. Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; [email protected]; Twitter: @KentuckyDerbyCJ.