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Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit fails second drug test


(NEW YORK) — Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has failed a second post-race test for betamethasone, Bob Baffert’s attorney Craig Robertson said in a statement.

News of the failed test was first reported by The New York Times.

Medina Spirit could become the second horse in the 147-year history of the race to be disqualified after a win due to a failed drug test. The first was Dancer’s Image in 1968.

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” said Churchill Downs when the news of the first failed test was announced.

The racetrack has not released a statement following the second failed test.

The win was the seventh for Baffert, which broke the record for most wins at the Derby for one trainer. 

Robertson said that 25 picograms of the banned substance were found in a split sample, which was tested at the University of California-Davis, according to Clark Brewster, the lawyer for Medina Spirit owner Amr Zeda, who spoke with the New York Times.

In a text message to the paper, Brewster said the lab did not test for the presence of other compounds “which could prove the trace positive came from an inadvertent and materially inconsequential contamination sourced from a topical ointment used to treat Medina Spirit for a skin lesion on his hip.”

Brewster also told the New York Times the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has agreed to send Medina Spirit’s original blood and urine samples to an independent lab to test for other compounds.

“The K.H.R.C. is not going to be providing comment or updates on the status of this ongoing investigation. We will provide information when the entire matter is complete,” a spokesperson for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission told the New York Times in an email when asked to comment on the second failed test.

News of the original failed test came on May 9, when Baffert announced his horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the drug and said he was starting an investigation.

Two days later, Baffert released a statement through his lawyer saying Medina Spirit was given an Otomax after developing dermatitis following the Santa Anita Derby and that Medina Spirit was given the ointment daily up until the day before the Kentucky Derby.

Bob Baffert Tuesday statement below explains that Otomax, an ointment he says was recommended by his vet to treat dermatitis on Medina Spirit’s hind end, includes betamethasone.


Baffert also states that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the KYD outcome.pic.twitter.com/zQXCfJhdIH

— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN)May 11, 2021

The statement goes on to say on May 10, he was made aware that the ointment contained the banned substance and equine experts say that could be the cause of the positive test.

Ahead of the Preakness Stakes, Maryland officials required Medina Spirit, Concert Tour, and Black-Eyed Susan runner Beautiful Gift – both trained by Baffert- to undergo three rounds of pre-race testing. All passed the tests.

Medina Spirit finished third and Concert Tour ninth in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 16. Beautiful Gift finished seventh at the Black-Eyed Susan that was run the day before

In May, the New York Racing Association announced a temporary suspension for Baffert from Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course.

“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public, and racing participants,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke in a statement at that time. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”

The Belmont Stakes take place on Saturday.

“Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission must stand firmly together in agreement to take the 2021 Derby title away from Bob Baffert and the horse,” Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, said in a statement. “We call on Churchill Downs to show no mercy and permanently ban Bob Baffert and his horses from the Kentucky Derby and all of Churchill Downs’ tracks. It’s time to end the cheating and medication abuse in the fastest two minutes in sports and an example must be made.”

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