May 17, 2022

Medina Spirit, the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, came out positive for corticosteroid betamethasone in a post-race drug test, trainer Bob Baffert revealed on Sunday. The test showed 21 picograms of the steroid in a post-race sample, which is twice the legal threshold in Kentucky racing. Churchill Downs suspended the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, and if the results are upheld, the victory will be invalidated.

Horses trained by Baffert have failed drug tests several times, and Medina Spirit is the fifth horse to fail a drug test this year. Last year, Betamethasone became the center of a controversy when Gamine, Baffert’s third-place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks, tested positive for the corticosteroid after split tests.

Along his legal team, Baffert held a press conference denying any illegal substances being introduced to the horses. He denied any responsibility for Medina Spirit’s positive test but acknowledged a problem with doping in horse racing.

“I’m worried about our sport,” Baffert said. “Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.” 

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something I didn’t do. I don’t feel embarrassed; I feel like I was wronged,” Baffert added, saying that he will fully cooperate with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

“We’re going to show them everything. One thing about it in California, everything is documented every day what the horse gets. This horse was never treated with that. He’s a great horse; he doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race.”

The trainer, a winner of seven Kentucky Derby, plans to launch his own investigation and fight the allegations. 

Darren Rovell of The Action Network noted that regardless of the result of the investigation, the bettors who took Medina Spirit at 12-1 odds will keep their payout. However, the purses earned by Baffert, jockey John Velazquez, and Medina Spirit’s ownership group from the Kentucky Derby will be forfeited.

Mandaloun will be named the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby if Medina Spirit is stripped of the title. Dancer’s Image is the only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Kentucky Derby in 1968.