Updated Feb 21, 2022 - Economy

Medina Spirit stripped of 2021 Kentucky Derby title

2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit on the track during a training session at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore in 2021. Photo: Rob Carr via Getty Images

Medina Spirit on Monday was stripped of his victory at last year's Kentucky Derby after a lengthy investigation into the horse's failed drug test.

Why it matters: The racing commission's ruling concludes a yearlong dispute over the traces of betamethasone, a steroid used to reduce pain and swelling, found in Medina Spirit's system post-race. Medina Spirit's trainer Bob Baffert, who faces a $7,500 fine and being suspended from facilities for 90 days, will appeal the ruling.

  • The title of champion will go to runner-up Mandaloun and trainer Brad Cox instead. The prize money amounts to $1.86 million, according to USA Today.

Catch up quick: Race regulations prohibit any detectable amount of betamethasone in a horse's system on race day.

The big picture: Medina Spirit died after a suspected heart attack in December, the Washington Post reports.

  • The horse is only the second winner in Kentucky Derby history to be disqualified over a failed drug test, per AP.

What they're saying: "We are disappointed by the Commission's ruling, but not surprised," said Baffert's attorney, Clark Brewster.

  • "This ruling represents an egregious departure from both the facts and the law," the statement continued.
"[B]ut the numerous public statements by [Kentucky Horse Racing Commission] officials over the last several months have made perfectly clear that Bob Baffert's fate was decided before we ever sat down for a hearing before the three stewards, one of whom is directly employed by Churchill Downs as the racing director at Turfway Park. We will appeal, and we will prevail when the facts and rules are presented to detached, neutral decision makers."
ā€” Excerpt from statement by Bob Baffert's attorney, Clark Brewster.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Bob Baffert's attorney.

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