Medina Spirit, the horse that won this year's Kentucky Derby, has failed a post-race drug test, per The New York Times. Follow-up tests are now underway to determine if Bob Baffert, Medina Spirit's trainer, will lose the Derby title and the accompanying winning purse. Baffert denies any wrongdoing, though this is reportedly becoming a pattern with the hall-of-famer.
Medina Spirit will be re-tested and a split sample will need to confirm the positive drug test results in order for the horse to be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby. At that point, Baffert will still have an opportunity to appeal the decision. From the sound of it, he intends to. Baffert gave a press conference from his barn in Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, insisting that neither he nor anyone else on his team administered performance-enhancing drugs to Medina Spirit.
"I was totally shocked when I heard this news," Baffert said. "I'm still trying to absorb it. I am the most scrutinized trainer. And I am okay with that. The last thing I want to do is something that would jeopardize the greatest sport. I'm worried about the sport. This is a pretty serious accusation. We're going to get to the bottom of it. We didn't do it."
Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid that can reduce pain and swelling when injected into a joint. This instance was not the first time one of Baffert's horses tested positive for this particular substance. In fact, this is the fifth drug test violation Baffert's horses have suffered in about a year.
Other drug test results have been upheld in spite of Baffert's appeals, and the prize money has been denied to him and the horses' owners already. Baffert was even fined over a horse named Gamine tested positive for betamethasone following the Kentucky Oaks. He paid $1,500.
Seeing Medina Spirit disqualified would be a much bigger blow since it would cost Baffert his newly won record for winning the most Kentucky Derbys of any trainer. This win was his seventh victory, officially surpassing the previous record-holding Ben Jones, who won six Derbys between 1938 and 1952.
"I am very aware of the several incidents this year concerning my horses and the impact it has had on my family, horse racing, and me," Baffert said of all these allegations. "I want to have a positive influence on the sport of horse racing. Horses have been my life and I owe everything to them and the tremendous sport in which I have been so fortunate to be involved."