Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tests positive for banned substance

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Medina Spirit ridden by jockey John Velazquez (AFP)
Medina Spirit ridden by jockey John Velazquez (AFP)
Sarah Stier / Getty Images via AFP

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has tested positive for a banned substance, trainer Bob Baffert said on Sunday, and could ultimately be disqualified from the US flat racing Triple Crown victory.

Baffert told reporters at a Sunday news conference at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, that post-race testing showed Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid medication not allowed to be used within 14 days of competition.

Baffert denied treating the colt with the medication and said he will investigate the test result to determine how the substance got into the horse's system following the race.

"I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something I didn't do," Baffert said. "It's disturbing. It's a complete injustice to the horse."

It would take a second positive test result from the split sample for the horse to be disqualified under Kentucky Horse Racing Commission rules, according to multiple reports.

"I'm going to fight it tooth and nail," Baffert said. "I owe it to the horse, I owe it to the owner and I owe it to our industry. Our industry needs to step up and we need to do a better job in racing."

Baffert set a record for the most wins by any trainer in the Derby's 147-race history on 1 May when 12-1 Medina Spirit won under jockey John Velazquez at Churchill Downs to give Baffert his seventh career Derby title.

Baffert said he still plans to run Medina Spirit in the Preakness next Saturday at Pimlico in Baltimore in the second leg of US flat racing's Triple Crown, which concludes with June's Belmont Stakes in New York.

Apart from last year, when the three races were conducted out of their usual order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Baffert's Derby winners are unbeaten in Preakness runs.

The New York Times reported last November that Baffert-trained horses had failed at least 29 drug tests over his career.

Last month, Baffert won an appeal of a 15-day suspension by the Arkansas Racing Commission after two winning horses tested positive for a painkiller in May of last year.

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