Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s failed drug test ‘is CONFIRMED by a second screening’


Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s failed drug test is CONFIRMED: Colt may be disqualified and its owner could have to forfeit $1.8 million winnings

  • A second blood sample from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has also been found to contain the steroid betamethasone, confirming a previous failed test
  • Following a previous failed test, Medina Spirit will likely become just the second horse in the Kentucky Derby’s 147-year history to be disqualified for steroids 
  • Trainer Bob Baffert previously claimed that only 21 picograms of betamethasone were found in the colt’s blood while pointing to a skin ointment as the culprit
  • This is the fifth violation for Baffert over the last 13 months. He was previously fined in Kentucky and Arkansas, but managed to avoid a ban in Arkansas 
  • The last Derby winner to be disqualified for failing a drug test was Dancer’s Image, which won in 1968 before an anti-inflammatory was found in its sample
  • If Medina Spirit is disqualified, Mandaloun would be elevated as the winner 
  • Gamblers who bet on Mandaloun would not be able to claim any winnings 
  • Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer, is suspended in New York and not allowed to enter any horses in the Belmont Stakes pending the Derby investigation

A second blood sample from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has also been found to contain the steroid betamethasone, confirming a previous failed test and likely sealing the colt’s fate as only the second horse in the race’s 147-year history to be disqualified over a failed drug test.

An official announcement has not yet been released, but a laboratory at the University of California, Davis confirmed that a second post-race sample found a prohibited level of the corticosteroid, which is injected to reduce pain and swelling. Clark Brewster, a lawyer who represents Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan revealed the failed test to The New York Times

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Sherelle Roberts-Pierre said the commission ‘values fairness and transparency and will provide information to the media and public at the close of an investigation.’

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, Mandaloun would be elevated as the winner of the Kentucky Derby. 

Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert is currently suspended by New York and not allowed to enter any horses in the Belmont Stakes pending the Derby investigation. 

A second blood sample from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has also been found to contain the steroid betamethasone, confirming a previous failed test and likely sealing the colt’s fate as only the second horse in the race’s 147-year history to be disqualified over a failed drug test

Trainer Bob Baffert (L) Jockey John Velazquez (C) and Horse Owner Amr Zedan hold up the winners trophy after the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 1. affert previously claimed that only 21 picograms of betamethasone were found in Medina Spirit's blood while suggesting that an ointment used to treat the colt's skin condition likely contaminated the samples. In a series of interviews, Baffert initially blamed 'cancel culture' for the positive test, but has since pointed to the skin ointment as the likely culprit. This is the fifth violation for Baffert over the last 13 months. He was previously fined in Kentucky and Arkansas, but managed to avoid a ban in Arkansas following an appeal

Trainer Bob Baffert (L) Jockey John Velazquez (C) and Horse Owner Amr Zedan hold up the winners trophy after the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 1. affert previously claimed that only 21 picograms of betamethasone were found in Medina Spirit’s blood while suggesting that an ointment used to treat the colt’s skin condition likely contaminated the samples. In a series of interviews, Baffert initially blamed ‘cancel culture’ for the positive test, but has since pointed to the skin ointment as the likely culprit. This is the fifth violation for Baffert over the last 13 months. He was previously fined in Kentucky and Arkansas, but managed to avoid a ban in Arkansas following an appeal

In a text message to the Times, Brewster said the lab did not test for other compounds in the blood and urine, ‘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.’  

Baffert previously claimed that only 21 picograms of betamethasone were found in Medina Spirit’s blood while suggesting that an ointment used to treat the colt’s skin condition likely contaminated the samples.

In a series of interviews, Baffert initially blamed ‘cancel culture’ for the positive test, but has since pointed to the skin ointment as the likely culprit. According to Baffert, Medina Spirit was given an antifungal ointment called Otomax, which contained betamethasone.

‘I think that will shed the light most prominently on the issue here for us,’ Brewster told The Associated Press by phone. ‘The whole basis for listing betamethasone is because it’s injected into a joint and they want you not to inject the joints too close to the race, so the whole substantive basis is out the window if it’s a salve, and it can be proven scientifically and empirically to be the salve.’

Rules in Kentucky do not differentiate punishment based on the source of the substance, which can be given to horses to help their joints and Baffert believes came from the dermatitis ointment. Churchill Downs said Medina Spirit would be disqualified if the split sample came back positive for betamethasone.

This is the fifth violation for Baffert over the last 13 months. He was previously fined in Kentucky and Arkansas, but managed to avoid a ban in Arkansas following an appeal. 

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, owner Amr Zedan would be forced to relinquish the $1.8 million winner’s purse.  

The last Derby winner to be disqualified for failing a drug test was Dancer’s Image, which won in 1968 before an anti-inflammatory was found in its sample. 

Brewster told the Times he was hopeful the Kentucky Derby officials would be lenient. 

‘If it was inadvertent contamination, that should be taken into account,’ Brewster told The Times in a telephone interview. ‘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.’ 

ohn Velazquez embraces Medina Spirit (8) in the winner's circle after the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

ohn Velazquez embraces Medina Spirit (8) in the winner’s circle after the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

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