Medina Spirit drug test confirmed; Baffert suspended 2 years

Jun 2, 2021, 9:28 AM | Updated: 11:30 pm
FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game...

FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Bob Baffert is on track to have his record seventh Kentucky Derby victory taken away and won’t be able to run any horses in the prestigious race for the next two years.

Churchill Downs on Wednesday suspended the Hall of Fame trainer for two years after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. The next step could be the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission disqualifying Medina Spirit, and now Baffert won’t be able to enter any horses in the Derby or other races at the storied track through the spring of 2023.

“Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated,” Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement. “Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby. Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility.”

Churchill Downs initially suspended Baffert indefinitely pending the investigation and now said it reserves the right to extend Baffert’s suspension if he has any other violations in other states. Baffert has had five in the past 13 months.

Maryland racing officials allowed Medina Spirit and Baffert-trained Concert Tour to run in the Preakness on May 15 only after undergoing three rounds of prerace testing. New York banned Baffert indefinitely and prevented him from entering any horses in the Belmont Stakes.

The stunning ban by Churchill Downs could have a domino effect that takes off the trail completely the only trainer to win the Triple Crown since 1978.

A Maryland Jockey Club spokesman did not expect to make any kind of formal announcement Wednesday. New York Racing Association spokesman Patrick McKenna said its suspension remains in effect and that the NYRA “will make a determination regarding the length and terms of Mr. Baffert’s suspension at the appropriate time and based on information generated by the ongoing investigation in Kentucky.”

Earlier Wednesday, lawyers for Baffert and Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan confirmed the split-sample test came back positive for betamethasone.

Baffert’s attorney, Craig Robertson, said the second test showed 25 picograms of the steroid, after 21 picograms were found in the first sample. Even a trace amount of betamethasone — a picogram is a trillionth of one gram — is prohibited on race day in Kentucky, Maryland and New York, which are home to the sport’s Triple Crown races, and considered a violation.

Robertson said additional testing is being conducted to try to trace the source of the drug to an ointment to treat a skin infection and not an injection. He and Zedan attorney Clark Brewster said they expect tests to show the ointment is responsible and not injections into one of the horse’s joints.

“I think that will shed the light most prominently on the issue here for us,” Brewster told The Associated Press by phone. “The whole basis for listing betamethasone is because it’s injected into a joint and they want you not to inject the joints too close to the race, so the whole substantive basis is out the window if it’s a salve, and it can be proven scientifically and empirically to be the salve.”

Rules in Kentucky do not differentiate punishment based on the source of the substance, which can be given to horses to help their joints and Baffert believes came from the dermatitis ointment. Churchill Downs said Medina Spirit would be disqualified if the split sample came back positive for betamethasone.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Sherelle Roberts-Pierre said the commission “values fairness and transparency and will provide information to the media and public at the close of an investigation.”

Brewster said he hoped the additional tests would come back in a week to 10 days.

“At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax,” Robertson said. “We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, Mandaloun would be elevated as the winner of the May 1 Kentucky Derby.

“I can’t control the outcome of that, so it’s something I give very, very little thought to,” said Brad Cox, who trains Mandaloun and would be the first trainer from Louisville to win the race.

Baffert initially denied wrongdoing in a May 9 news conference announcing the positive result, which he called “the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn’t do.” He later cited the antifungal ointment as a potential cause.

Asked if he thought tests showing evidence of the steroid coming from an ointment would change the outcome, Brewster said: “You’re asking me to predict the behavior and the decision-making of others, but if you ask me ‘should’ — absolutely.”

This would be the second Derby disqualification in three years after 2019 winner Maximum Security was DQ’d for interference following the race and Country House declared the winner. The only previous time that a Derby winner was disqualified after the fact for failing a postrace drug test was 1968 with Dancer’s Image.

___

Whyno reported from New York.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in this Saturday, May 1, 2021, file photo. Bob Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday, June 2, 2021, that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in this Saturday, May 1, 2021, file photo. Bob Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday, June 2, 2021, that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in this Saturday, May 1, 2021, file photo. Bob Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday, June 2, 2021, that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, Trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in this Saturday, May 1, 2021, file photo. Bob Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday, June 2, 2021, that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert looks out from his barn before a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Mune 2, 2021, after an additional drug test of Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
            
              FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2020 file photo, trainer Bob Baffert watches at horses workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday, June 2, 2021, that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
            
              FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner during a workout at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday, June 2, 2021, that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

AP

This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed ...
Associated Press

Evacuations urged in Ohio town as train wreck smolders

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A smoldering tangle of dozens of derailed freight cars, some carrying hazardous materials, has kept an evacuation order in effect in Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line as environmental authorities warily watch air quality monitors. About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine at about 9 p.m. Friday as a train […]
14 hours ago
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Dave Bautista, from left, Abby Quinn, and Nikki Amu...
Associated Press

‘Knock at the Cabin’ knocks off ‘Avatar’ at the box office

NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in almost two months, the box office doesn’t belong to blue people. After seven weeks as the top film in theaters, “Avatar: The Way of Water” was finally knocked out of the No. 1 spot by the M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Knock at the Cabin” and the […]
14 hours ago
NASCAR Cup Series drivers Chris Buescher (17) and Alex Bowman (48) participate during a practice se...
Associated Press

Ally Financial expands NASCAR spend with 2 new partnerships

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ally Financial has expanded its growing portfolio as a top NASCAR sponsor with a deal to become the official bank of the stock car series and NASCAR-owned race tracks. The multiyear deal was announced Sunday ahead of NASCAR’s exhibition extravaganza at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and led to the creation […]
14 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting, Friday, Feb. 3, 202...
Associated Press

Biden’s State of the Union to tout policy wins on economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will use his second State of the Union address on Tuesday to remind Americans of how their lives have been improved over his first two years in office, as he tries to confront pessimism in the country and navigate the tricky politics of a newly divided Washington. Rather than […]
14 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

NFL offering free CPR training during Super Bowl week

The NFL and American Heart Association will provide free CPR education in Arizona throughout Super Bowl week as part of the NFL Experience.
14 hours ago
/// State Sen. Clarence Lam, a Maryland Democrat who is a physician at Johns Hopkins, speaks during...
Associated Press

As many as 80K Marylanders could lose Medicaid eligibility

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials are preparing for as many as 80,000 residents who could no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage this spring, as the federal government reinstates a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify the eligibility of recipients. Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Medina Spirit drug test confirmed; Baffert suspended 2 years