2021 Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Tests Positive For Banned Substance, Bob Baffert Announces

2021 Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Tests Positive For Banned Substance, Bob Baffert Announces article feature image
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Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert celebrates winning the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit on May 1 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has tested positive for a banned substance, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert announced Sunday morning at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Baffert, who trained Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), announced his 3-year-old champion tested positive for betamethasone — a  corticosteroid and banned race-day drug.

Medina Spirit won last weekend’s 147th running of the first jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, edging out Mandaloun to capture the $3 million race. Baffert’s charge, who worked out Sunday at Churchill Downs, is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. The Maryland Jockey Club released a statement Sunday afternoon regarding the news on the horse’s entry status:

A statement just released from Maryland Jockey Club re: the Medina Spirit positive says in part: “We are consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission and any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.”

— Alicia Hughes (@AHughesTVG) May 9, 2021

The Action Network’s Darren Rovell confirmed bettors who had Medina Spirit will keep their winnings and can still cash their outstanding tickets if they haven’t already.

Baffert has a record seven Kentucky Derby wins, seven Preakness Stakes victories and three Belmont Stakes wins in his career. The connections of Medina Spirit, who went off at 12-1 odds after finishing a distant second in the Santa Anita Derby, was set to receiver $1.86 million of the purse.

With lawyer Craig Robertson in tow, Baffert delivered the news after rumors hit social media late Saturday night about the horse’s failed test. Baffert was adamant in denying any wrongdoing when asked about Medina Spirit and the test coming back positive for the banned drug. “I don’t know what’s going on, but there’s something that is not right,” Baffert told reporters.

Late Sunday morning, Churchill Downs officials announced Baffert had been suspended and will be unable to enter horses in races at the track until the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s investigation.

When the news broke, it sent those who wagered on the race into a heated frenzy, with some threatening to sue and calling for a boycott of the sport that has continuously attempted to defend its image and standing in sports.

One of the biggest bettors in the sport, who had the second place horse to win, Mandaloun, says everyone should stop giving industry money. https://t.co/mizNsjy2OR

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 9, 2021

If the split sample for Medina Spirit comes back positive, Baffert’s charge could potentially become the first medication disqualification since Dancer’s Image and his connections were of their 1968 Derby victory after a disputed positive test for the anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone.

Baffert, who has already had four medication violations since May 2020, casts a darker cloud on arguably the sport’s most successful trainer.

On April 20, Baffert caught a break when the Arkansas Racing Commission restored the 2020 victories of Charlatan in a division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and Gamine in an allowance optional claiming race.

Oaklawn Park stewards had disqualified both Baffert horses from their May 2 wins after lidocaine was discovered in post-race samples. Baffert received a 15-day suspension for those infractions, but ultimately wound up with a $5,000 fine after the Arkansas commission reversed the decision.

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