News and Commentary

Second Post-Race Drug Test Reportedly Positive For Kentucky Derby Winner
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 01: Trainer Bob Baffert of Medina Spirit, raises the trophy after winning the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit, his seventh career Kentucky Derby win, at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Medina Spirit is one step closer to becoming the second horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby to be disqualified for a failed drug test. 

Following his win at the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit — trained by the legendary Bob Baffert — tested positive for having over double the legal amount of the anti-inflammatory betamethasone in his system. Baffert initially denied giving the drug to the horse, before eventually admitting that the anti-fungal ointment Otomax had been applied to Medina Spirit and was more than likely the reason for the positive test:

Following the Santa Anita Derby, MEDINA SPIRIT developed dermatitis on his hind end. I had him checked out by veterinarian who recommended the use of an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax. The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis, and prevent dirt from spreading. My barn followed this recommendation and MEDINA SPIRIT was treated with Otomax once a day up until the day before the Kentucky Derby. Yesterday, I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax was betamethasone. While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit’s post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results. As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information.  

On Wednesday, a second post-race drug test reportedly came back positive, according to The New York Times.

Based on a statement made by Churchill Downs following the first positive test, the second positive test will invalidate Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win:

It is our understanding that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s post-race blood sample indicated a violation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s equine medication protocols. The connections of Medina Spirit have the right to request a test of a split sample and we understand they intend to do so. 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.

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According to CNBC, attorney Clark Brewster — representing Medina Spirit’s owner Amr Zedan —is having a third test done on Medina Spirit.

“In response to the inquiries, this will acknowledge that the Medina Spirit split sample confirmed the finding of betamethasone at 25 picograms,” Brewster said. “There is other testing that is being conducted, including DNA testing. We expect this additional testing to confirm that the presence of the betamethasone was from the topical ointment, Otomax, and not an injection. At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax. We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”

If Medina Spirit is indeed disqualified, the runner-up — Mandaloun — will be declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Baffert is currently suspended from racing at Churchill Downs and in the state of New York, barring Medina Spirit from racing in the upcoming Belmont Stakes.

On Wednesday, Churchill Downs announced that they have suspended Baffert for two years.

Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) announced today the suspension of Bob Baffert for two years effective immediately through the conclusion of the 2023 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs Racetrack. The suspension prohibits Baffert, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all CDI-owned racetracks. This decision follows the confirmation by attorneys representing Bob Baffert of the presence of betamethasone, a prohibited race-day substance, in Medina Spirit’s bloodstream on the day of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby in violation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s equine medication protocols and CDI’s terms and conditions for racing

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