Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit confirmed positive drug test after race, setting stage for colt To be the second horse in the 147-year history of America’s greatest race coached by Bob Baffert to be disqualified for a failed drug test.
Clark Brewster, a lawyer representing Medina Spirit owner Amr Zadan, said the lab at the University of California, Davis confirmed that a second post-race sample contained the drug betamethasone, a corticosteroid known to reduce pain and inflammation. injected into the joints. Level.
In a text message, however, Brewster said the laboratory did not test blood or urine samples for the presence of other compounds, “which could prove that the trace positive came from an unintentional and physically irrelevant contamination which is derived from the topical ointment used to treat Medina. Spirit for a skin wound on his hip.”
Shortly after announcing Medina Spirit’s positive test on 9 May, Baffert gave a series of television and radio interviews, which swam different theories About how the colt had tested positive for betamethasone – blaming “cancellation culture” for the controversy and saying racing officials were out to get him.
However, he soon reversed himself, and admitted to treating the medina spirit by using an antifungal ointment called Otomax, which – to Baffert’s surprising surprise – contained betamethasone.
Brewster said the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has agreed to send the original blood and urine tests to an independent and accredited laboratory for analysis to determine whether the samples contained other components that proved to be the source of topical ointments. We do.
If the Medina Spirit is disqualified from the Derby, Zedan will forfeit the first place check worth more than $1.8 million, which he earned for crossing the finish line earlier. In 1968, Dancer’s image was stripped of her Derby victory when a drug test showed the presence of a banned anti-inflammatory.
“If it was unintentional contamination, that should be taken into account,” Brewster said in a telephone interview. “We hope that regulators with reasonable minds and good intentions can see what this is, and what is not, and not react harshly.”
Brewster. who breeds and owns horses, said the commission has reduced disqualification in previous cases when it found mitigating circumstances.
Neither Baffert nor his attorney, W. Craig Robertson III, returned emails or phone calls for comment.
In an email, a spokesman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to comment on the results of the second sample.
“KHRC will not provide comment or updates on the status of this ongoing investigation. We will provide information when the full case is complete,” said Sherrell Roberts.
Baffert has already earned the ire of Churchill Downs officials, who have made it clear that if a second sample confirms the drug’s presence, the Medina Spirit will be disqualified and runner-up Mandaloon as Derby winner. will be announced.
Medina Spirit controversy comes as horse racing, admitting it has a drug problem, prepares to kick it off. Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act, which was passed in Congress last year. It will take effect from July 1, 2022, and will call for a board overseen by the Federal Trade Commission to write down the rules and penalties to be implemented by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
The agency, which regulates the Olympics and other elite athletes in the United States, Cyclist Lance Armstrong’s fraud exposed and issued a life suspension in 2012.
In the span of four weeks during racing’s Triple Crown season, Baffert has gone from being a fiery and fickle face of horse racing to a mostly silent poster boy for what is wrong with the sport.
For 25 years, New York City has been a Baffert-like city and the Belmont Park racetrack that made him the most famous well-trained coach in America. Five times, he has brought the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner to the “Test of the Champions”, as known as the Belmont Stakes, with the Triple Crown hanging in the balance.
With American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2017, Baffert completed cleaning the game’s holy grail and leaving the city a victorious hero, bringing renewed attention to the often-forgotten game. Over the years, he’s thrown out the first pitch at a New York Mets game, dined at Manhattan’s finest restaurants and good-naturedly accepted heckles and hoorays from the passionate racehorses of the Big Apple.
For Saturday’s 153rd run of the Belmont Stakes, however, Baffert will be in California after the New York Racing Association barred him from driving his horses on state tracks due to a failed test of the Medina Spirit. He’s out of one of horse racing’s biggest days.
While track operators in New York and Churchill Downs refuse to allow Baffert to enter their horses, in California his mighty stable dominates the race. He is the leading instructor at the current meeting of Santa Anita Park with earnings of over $3.6 million. The track is owned by the Stronach Group, which also owns Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and allows Medina Spirit to race in Preakness after passing an extended drug test.
The California Horse Racing Board said in a statement that like their counterparts in New York and Kentucky, their hands were tied until the second sample of Medina Spirit was confirmed and a complaint was filed against Baffert.
“They face the same issue that the CHRB does in that regulators cannot suspend or revoke commercial licenses without a hearing and due process,” the statement said. “If a regulatory body takes action against a licensee, we will respond to that action in California.”
Baffert has gained the envy of rivals who believe he has consistently cheated 30 drug tests that have raised suspicions that his horses have failed over four decades, including five in the past year.
The cases took months, if not years, to be decided, mostly met with minor fines or brief suspensions as Baffert insisted he did nothing wrong and blamed environmental pollution or human error for the consequences. Still, owners with deep pockets flock to Baffert’s stables.
In 2019, The New York Times reported that Justify, also coached by Baffert, had failed a drug test after winning the 2018 Santa Anita Derby in Southern California. The rule at the time required that Justify be disqualified, her prize money forfeited, and her entry into the Kentucky Derby be barred a month later.
Baffert was hired by Chuck Viner, the president of the California Horse Racing Board at the time, to train his horses. Justify’s unsuccessful test was followed for four months, allowing the horse to continue competing long enough to not only win derby, But this also foreshadowing and Belmont Stakes To become the 13th Triple Crown winner. His post-race tests were clean in all three.
In August 2018, after Justify’s breeding rights were sold for $60 million, the medical director of the Racing Board suggested that the illegal substance may be present in some gymnweed that the horse eats. The Board disposed of the investigation in its entirety during a rare in-camera session.
If Medina Spirit is disqualified, Baffert and Colt will join in the image of Maximum Security and Dancer as the only horses to reverse their Derby victory.
In 2019, maximum safety was first across the finish line, To be disqualified only for nearly knocking on an opponent horse In turning away and slowing down the speed of others. The next year, Maxim Security’s trainer, Jason Service, was among them. charges against 27 people In a sweeping scheme by federal prosecutors to deceive the public into secretly doping horses and betting.
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