What Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s second positive drug test means for Bob Baffert

What Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s second positive drug test means for Bob Baffert

Medina Spirit may no longer be the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

The Bob Baffert-trained horse had tested positive for a banned substance shortly after the Derby took place, but the decision was appealed. As a result, the colt’s sample was re-tested in a lab chosen by Baffert. Once again, it was positive for betamethasone, a steroid that is used to reduce inflammation.

Why this matters: Medina Spirit now faces disqualification from the Kentucky Derby as a result of this positive test.

  • If Baffert’s horse is disqualified, Mandaloun, the initial runner-up in the race, would be declared the winner.
  • The last time that a winning horse was disqualified from the Derby because of a positive drug test was Dancer’s Image in 1968.
  • It’s the second time in the past three years that the Derby’s winning horse has been disqualified. Maximum Security was disqualified in 2019 for dangerously impeding the path of other horses, leading Country House to the win as a longshot. 

MORE: Full draw, odds, post positions for the Belmont Stakes

What they’re saying: Clark Brewster, a lawyer who represents Medina Spirit’s owner, hopes that the intent of the potential contamination, which Baffert previously said came from an anti-fungal cream applied to the horse, is considered when discussing potential punishment for the horse.

  • “If it was inadvertent contamination, that should be taken into account. We’re hopeful that reasonable minds and good-intentioned regulators can see what it is, and what it is not, and not have a draconian response.” 
  • “I’m not a conspiracy (theorist) — I know everybody’s not out to get me. But there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening, you know, to me?” Baffert said. “There’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert.”

What comes next: An official ruling on Medina Spirit’s status as it relates to the 2021 Kentucky Derby should be incoming soon.

  • Baffert could face a potential suspension and other charges depending on the findings. He was already barred from entering horses into this year’s Belmont Stakes, and other racetracks could follow suit given the findings of the investigation.

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