Updated Jun 2, 2021 - Sports

Medina Spirit's failed drug test confirmed

Picture of horse Medina Spirit competing in the Kentucky Derby
Medina Spirit crosses the finish line at the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Hours after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's failed drug test was confirmed by a second sample requested by trainer Bob Baffert, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Medina Spirit could become the second horse in Kentucky Derby history to be disqualified for a failed drug test, the Times notes. Hours after the confirmation, Churchill Downs suspended Baffert for two years, effective immediately.

  • The move bars Baffert, or any trainer employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at any Churchill Downs-owned racetracks, per USA Today.

Details: Clark Brewster, the lawyer who represents the horse's owner, Amr Zedan, told the Times that a laboratory confirmed that the drug betamethasone had been found at a prohibited level in Medina Spirit's system after the race.

  • The drug is a steroid used to reduce inflammation and pain.

But, but, but: The horse's blood and urine samples were not tested for the presence of other compounds, "which could prove the trace positive came from an inadvertent and materially inconsequential contamination sourced from a topical ointment used to treat Medina Spirit for a skin lesion on his hip," Brewster told the Times in a text message.

  • Baffert had said the betamethasone came from an ointment called Otomax that he had used to treat Medina Spirit for a rash, which he did not know contained the steroid.

What they're saying: "If it was inadvertent contamination, that should be taken into account," Brewster told the Times.

What to watch: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will send blood and urine samples to an independent laboratory to confirm whether the betamethasone did come from the ointment.

  • Medina Spirit is yet to be disqualified. If he is, Zedan will have to give up the $1.8 million check he received for crossing the finish line first.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Churchill Downs' announcement.

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