Kentucky Derby Winner Flunks Postrace Drug Test

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert: 'We didn't do it'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2021 10:45 AM CDT
Updated May 9, 2021 1:15 PM CDT
Kentucky Derby Winner Flunks Postrace Drug Test
John Velazquez rides Medina Spirit at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Medina Spirit, the winner of last weekend's Kentucky Derby, has flunked a postrace drug test. The test sample was found to include 21 picograms, twice the legal threshold, of the steroid betamethasone. "I was totally shocked when I heard this news," Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday. "I got the biggest gut-punch in racing, for something I didn't do." He said neither he nor his team administered the drug, the New York Times reports. The Louisville Courier Journal reports that after the news broke, Baffert was suspended from entering horses at Churchill Downs. Baffert has requested that a split sample be tested, as is his right. It's unclear when those results will be available. In a release, Churchill Downs made clear that "if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results ... will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner."

Betamethasone also was found in a test of Gamine, also trained by Baffert, who ran third last fall in the Kentucky Oaks, per the AP. In four decades, Baffert's horses have failed 30 drug tests, per the Times, and competitors suspect him of systematic cheating. He's consistently denied wrongdoing and blamed the positive test results on environmental contamination or human error. "I am the most scrutinized trainer," Baffert said Sunday. "And I am OK with that." The cases can take years to resolve. He said he'll cooperate on the Medina Spirit investigation with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. "We're going to show them everything," he said. Under pressure, Baffert apologized last year for breaches, per the BBC, and promised to do better. "There's problems in racing," he said Sunday. "But it’s not Bob Baffert." (More Bob Baffert stories.)

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