LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is headed to Baltimore for Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. He is still scheduled to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown after a failed drug test.
Churchill Downs suspended Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday after it was revealed that Medina Spirit had a post-race sample test positive for a substance in excess of allowable limits.
Baffert said he is not planning to be in Baltimore for the Preakness because he doesn't want to be a distraction. The Maryland Jockey Club and Stronach Racing have now moved the post position draw from Monday to Tuesday at 4 p.m.
If a second test comes back positive, the colt could be disqualified. The drug in question, Baffert said, is betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory that Baffert says was not used to treat Medina Spirit. The sample showed 21 picograms of the drug. The allowable limit in Kentucky is only 10.
Officials at Pimlico Race Course, where Medina Spirit is to van overnight on Sunday to prepare for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, say that the Maryland Jockey Club will review the facts of the drug tests in Kentucky and that “any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.”
Baffert told reporters Sunday morning he got the news from Kentucky stewards on Friday, and said “it was the biggest punch in the gut, for something I didn’t do. It’s disturbing. It’s an injustice to the horse.”
Medina Spirit breezed on the Churchill Downs track Sunday morning, and Baffert said he still plans to enter the colt in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
”It is a complete injustice and I’m going to fight it tooth and nail,” Baffert said.
In a statement, Churchill Downs said "Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it."
The statement continued, "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. We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions’ investigation before taking further steps."
Baffert had two high-profile horses test positive a year ago, but had suspensions and sanctions in Arkansas dropped after a court challenge. His 2018 Triple Crown winner was alleged to have had a positive test for a banned substance, but the state of California did not find Baffert at fault.
A disqualification of Medina Spirit would be just the second substance-related DQ of a winner in Derby history, but the second overall disqualification in three years.
Churchill Downs said that "if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner."
Baffert said he doesn’t know how the substance turned in his horse’s test, and noted that two other horses he had who won on Derby Day did not test positive.
“I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged,” Baffert said. “We’re going to do a complete investigation, our own investigation, we’re going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we’ve always been. . . . The last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest two minutes in sports. I just want to get that out there, that this is terrible but we have to deal with it now.”
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