American Thoroughbred racehorse Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby on May 1, but his title is in jeopardy after he failed a postrace drug test.
As a result, Churchill Downs—the racing horse complex in Louisville, Kentucky which hosts the annual event—immediately suspended Medina Spirit's Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert.
Breaking News: Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test, once more putting the practices of… https://t.co/Vs4FQCCgYA— The New York Times (@The New York Times) 1620569406.0
Baffert's barn learned on Saturday the three-year-old brown colt tested positive for excessive amounts of betamethasone—an anti-inflammatory steroid used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.
@dflucassmith46 @nytimes You are mostly correct. It is an anti inflammatory, which can be used therapeutically. U… https://t.co/rS8YH5bvLF— Kevin Hale (@Kevin Hale) 1620604125.0
The post race test detected 21 picograms per milliliter, which is more than double the allowed limit for Kentucky racing, according to WLFI 18, and is grounds for disqualification in the state.
"I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn't do, and it's disturbing," said Baffert of the failed drug test during a press conference.
"It's an injustice to the horse. ... I don't know what's going on in racing right now, but there's something not right."
"I don't feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We're going to do our own investigation. We're going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we've always been.
"He's a great horse. He doesn't deserve this. He ran a gallant race."
@nytimes Baffert has a history of this and tends to get away with it every time. We know he juices up those horses,… https://t.co/6LpFy2s9XE— Kovarick Morris (@Kovarick Morris) 1620569855.0
Baffert denied any wrongdoing—and despite declaring he was not a "conspiracy theorist"—he said he felt targeted.
"I'm still trying to absorb it. I am the most scrutinized trainer. And I am OK with that. The last thing I want to do is something that would jeopardize the greatest sport."
"I know everybody is not out to get me, but there's definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me?"
"You know, there's problems in racing, but it's not Bob Baffert."
@nytimes His quotes in this article have a really odd rationalizing tone. Almost like he’s saying he’s trying to sa… https://t.co/aPURWXGpuh— CC Lagator (@CC Lagator) 1620569999.0
Twitter was unsympathetic to Baffert's grousing.
@nytimes You know it's bad when even the horses are failing drug test. What I want to know is how they got Mr. Ed t… https://t.co/Ieh8QbPvzx— OsitoRican (@OsitoRican) 1620580853.0
@nytimes So we are supposed to believe that some random person got access to a multimillion horse and shot steroids… https://t.co/nLhlo9m0JD— Mary Leonard (@Mary Leonard) 1620571166.0
Following Baffert's statement, officials for Churchill Downs said they would not "tolerate it."
"Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack."
Medina Spirit beat Mandaloun by half a length, delivering Baffert his record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby victory. But all that could change.
Pending an investigation, the racetrack said Medina Spirit's title still stands for the time being.
"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."
"We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions' investigation before taking further steps."
Zero surprise. He’s a cheat. Ban him. https://t.co/duRbkwpotJ— Mike Gannon (@Mike Gannon) 1620569617.0
Baffert's attorney, Craig Robertson, sent the trainer's statement to Horse Racing Nation indicating he plans to be fully transparent during the investigation.
"I intend to thoroughly and transparently investigate the matter to determine how this could have happened."
"We will have the split sample analyzed and DNA testing performed. That will be the first step in the process."
Baffert's horses have been embroiled in numerous drug test scandals. A recent case involved Triple Crown winner Justify, who tested positive for scopolamine—an anticholinergic drug—after winning the 2018 Santa Anita Derby.
However, the case was dismissed after regulators found evidence of feed contamination.
Medina Spirit is Baffert's fifth horse to have failed a drug test in a year, according to the Associated Press.
It is unclear how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the derby should stand or change.
If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections would lose out on the $1.86 million prize money. But whatever the outcome, those who cashed in with a bet on the colt still win and those who did not still lose.