Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has tested positive for banned substances

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has tested positive for a banned substance, trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday, and the horse could be stripped of his historic win.

Baffert told reporters at a news conference Sunday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. that post-race tests showed Medina Spirit was positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid drug not to be used within 14 days of the race may.

Baffert denied treating the foal with the drug and said he will examine the test result to determine how the substance got into the horse’s system after the race.

“I got the biggest punch in the gut in racing for something I didn’t do,” said Baffert, who clinched a record seventh Kentucky Derby win with Medina Spirit but is now under renewed scrutiny after last appearing in a series of drug test failures.

“It’s disturbing,” Baffert said. “It’s a total injustice to the horse.”

Churchill Downs announced Sunday that it has banned Baffert from stepping on horses at the racetrack while awaiting the completion of an investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

It would require a second positive result from a subsample for the horse to be disqualified.

But if the second sample comes back positive, Medina Spirit’s results would be void and runner-up Mandaloun declared the winner, Churchill Downs officials said.

“Failure to follow rules and medication protocols endangers the safety of horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all competitors. Churchill Downs will not tolerate this,” the circuit said in a statement.

“Given the seriousness of the alleged offence, Churchill Downs will immediately stop Bob Baffert, Medina Spirit’s trainer, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs racecourse.

“We will await the completion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s investigation before taking any further action.”

But critics were already piling on the three-year-old stallion and his trainer, former US President Donald Trump, saying: “So now even our Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, is a junky… the whole world is laughing at us. “

Baffert didn’t laugh, however, and vowed to contest the finding as much as possible.

“I’ll fight it tooth and nail,” Baffert said. “I owe it to the horse, I owe it to the owner and I owe it to our industry. Our industry needs to move up and we need to do a better job in racing.”

“I’m not embarrassed,” Baffert said. “I feel like I’ve been wronged.

“There are problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert.”

Baffert set a record for most wins by a coach in the derby’s 147-race history on May 1 when Medina Spirit won 12-1 under jockey John Velazquez, giving Baffert his seventh career derby title.

Two of his Kentucky Derby winners, Justify and American Pharoah, clinched the Triple Crown with wins in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

– preference when in doubt –

Not only could this title be scrapped, Medina Spirit may not be allowed to race in the Preakness.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates the Preakness and host track Pimlico, said it will review “the relevant facts” before deciding on Medina Spirit’s status for the race.

“We strive to achieve the highest level of horse care and safety standards and we have a proven track record of advancing those standards,” the club said in a statement.

In addition to a blood sample taken upon arrival in Maryland, Medina Spirit would be drug tested if he finishes in the top three in the Preakness.

Betamethasone in a race-day sample would also be considered a positive test in Maryland.

Apart from last year, when the three races were run out of their usual order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Baffert’s derby winners are unbeaten in preakness runs.

The New York Times reported last November that horses trained by Baffert had failed at least 29 drug tests during his career.

Among them was Justify, the 2018 Triple Crown winner, who tested positive for an anti-nausea drug in his last Derby tuning, an infringement only revealed after the coveted triple was completed.

Baffert blamed pollution and California officials eventually confirmed Justify as the winner of the 2018 Santa Anita Derby.

Last month, Baffert won an appeal against a 15-day suspension by the Arkansas Racing Commission after two winning horses tested positive for a painkiller in May last year.

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