Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win could be invalidated after failed drug test; Bob Baffert suspended

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2021 Kentucky Derby Medina Spirit John Velasquez
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Medina Spirit, winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, failed a post-race drug test, trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday. The failed test could invalidate the May 1 victory for Medina Spirit, who gave Baffert his seventh Kentucky Derby victory. Baffert held a press conference on Sunday, saying the horse had 21 picograms of a steroid, betamethasone, in its system, which is more than double the legal allotment for horse racing in Kentucky.

Shortly after the news broke, Baffert was suspended from entering horses by Churchill Downs, the famous track that hosts the Kentucky Derby. The race track also said that Medina Spirit’s victory will be invalidated “if the findings are upheld.” In that case, second-place finisher Mandaloun would be declared the 2021 Kentrucky Derby winner.

Here’s the full statement from Churchill Downs:

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. The connections of Medina Spirit have the right to request a test of a split sample and we understand they intend to do so. To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner. 

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. 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.

Medina Spirit was a 12-1 underdog heading into last Saturday’s race, and jockey John Velasquez rode the horse to his fourth Kentucky Derby win in 11 years.

“I got the biggest gut punch in racing, for something I didn’t do,” Baffert told reporters Sunday. “…This shouldn’t have happened. There’s a problem somewhere. It didn’t come from us…. He ran a gallant race.”





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