Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for regulated drugs

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Medina Spirit, the Bob Baffert-trained horse that won the 2021 Kentucky Derby, has tested positive for a regulated drug, betamethasone, and his Derby win could be in jeopardy.

Baffert revealed the positive test at an impromptu press conference at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, calling it “the biggest gut punch in racing”.

Betamethasone is a Class C anti-inflammatory drug, and while it’s not banned, it’s regulated: a horse must wean the drug within 14 days of racing. Medina Spirit has been tested to more than twice the permitted amount.

Baffert protests his innocence and vows to fight

Baffert repeatedly claimed during the press conference that no one on his team gave Medina Spirit the drug. He said he will pass the test and send Medina Spirit to Preakness, which will be conducted in less than a week.

However, Baffert strongly indicated that he believes he will be set up or targeted — by whom or what he would not say. Medina Spirit is the only horse to test positive at the Derby, which he says was suspicious. Baffert also said he “doesn’t feel safe exercising” knowing something like this could happen.

In a statement, Churchill Downs confirmed the positive test and confirmed that Baffert intends to request a split sample test, where the horse’s blood sample will be sent to an independent laboratory and tested more extensively. The statement also spelled out the consequences should Medina Spirit’s test results be confirmed: the win will be void and runner-up Mandaloun will be declared the winner.

In addition, Churchill Downs barred Baffert from stepping on horses on the track. If the split sample results are positive, Churchill Downs will “take further steps”.

Not the first positive betamethasone test for Baffert

This is the second time in seven months that a Baffert horse has tested positive for betamethasone. Gamine tested positive for the same substance in October 2020. Baffert offered an explanation for this and did not deny that Gamine had been administered the drug.

Baffert also mentioned Justify, the horse he trained that won the Triple Crown in 2018. Justify tested positive for a regulated substance before he officiated the Kentucky Derby, although this was not announced until later. The positive test was attributed to contaminated feed and was dismissed, and it did not affect the eligibility of Justify.

Baffert used that positive test to once again portray himself as the victim of a larger conspiracy, saying, “It just seems odd, why am I the only coach with these positive results?”

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: Medina Spirit (8) ridden by jockey John Velazquez wins heat 147 of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2021 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit has tested positive for a regulated substance and his Derby win could be in jeopardy. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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