“Medina Spirit’s win over Mandaloun in the Derby stands for now“– Paul Ebeling
“I am not a conspiracy theorist, but there is definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there’s problems in racing, but it is not Bob Baffert.”– Bill Baffert
Medina Spirit’s win in the Kentucky Derby is in jeopardy because of a positive postrace drug test, and Churchill Downs suspended Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert Sunday.
Mr. Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. His barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.
“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,” Churchill Downs officials said in a statement shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned morning news conference outside his barn to respond to the latest allegation.
The track said that failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport’s integrity and the Derby’s reputation.
“Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” the statement read. “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 is expected to run in the Preakness Saturday, barring some abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at Pimlico or Maryland’s racing commission that would prevent him from entering the 2nd jewel of the Triple Crown.
“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn’t do,” Mr. Baffert said of the failed test. “And it’s disturbing. 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,” Mr. Baffert added.
The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer’s Image in Y 1968.
Mr. Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone, a bit more than 2X what the trainer said was the allowable amount in a postrace sample. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.
Mandaloun, which lost the Derby by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for Y 2021 would end right there.
It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.
Mr. Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record 8th victory in that race. Except for Y 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the VirusCasedemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness, which holds its post position draw Monday.
“I know I’m the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don’t have a problem with that,” Mr. Baffert said. “The last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest 2 minutes in sports.”.
“I’m worried about our sport,” Mr. 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.”
Have a healthy week, Keep the Faith!