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Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win invalidated if failed drug test upheld, Churchill Downs says

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Key Points
  • Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's victory will be invalidated if it is upheld that the champion horse failed a drug test, Churchill Downs said Sunday.
  • Medina Spirit's trainer Bob Baffert will be immediately suspended from entering any horses in races at Churchill Downs track, Churchill Downs said.
  • Baffert on Sunday morning denied any wrongdoing.

In this article

Louisville, Kentucky, USA; John Velazquez guides Medina Spirit to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Jamie Rhodes | USA TODAY Sports | Reuters

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's victory will be invalidated if it is upheld that the champion horse failed a drug test, Churchill Downs said Sunday.

Medina Spirit's trainer Bob Baffert will be immediately suspended from entering any horses in races at Churchill Downs' track "given the seriousness of the alleged offense," said the statement from the company that runs the Derby.

"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 press release said.

If the finding is upheld, runner-up Mandaloun will be declared the winner of the race, Churchill Downs said.

Baffert on Sunday morning denied any wrongdoing. He revealed at a news conference that Medina Spirit in a post-race test was found to have 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone in its bloodstream.

While that drug can be legally used as a therapeutic in Kentucky on a horse, any trace of it on race day is grounds for disqualification if a second test confirms it was in the blood on that day.

"I got the biggest gut-punch in racing, for something I didn't do," Baffert said.

Just two other horses in the 147-year history of the Kentucky Derby have been disqualified, according to the Associated Press.

"It is our understanding that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's post-race blood sample indicated a violation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky's equine medication protocols," Churchill Downs' press release said.

"The connections of Medina Spirit have the right to request a test of a split sample and we understand they intend to do so," the company said.

"We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions' investigation before taking further steps."

-- With reporting from The Associated Press.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that there was a maximum allowable limit of betamethasone in a horse on race day in Kentucky under regulations there. In fact, any trace of that steroid in a horse is grounds for disqualification if subsequent testing confirms its presence on race day.