Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Failed Second Drug Test, Trainer’s Attorney Says


Medina Spirit, the winner of  this year’s Kentucky Derby, has tested positive for a banned steroid for the second time, trainer Bob Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday, putting the horse’s title and $1.86 million in prize money in jeopardy.

Key Facts

A split sample from Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the therapeutic steroid betamethasone at levels higher than permitted, according to a statement from attorney Craig Robertson.

Medina Spirit’s first failed raceday test detected 21 picograms of betamethasone, and the split sample contained 25 picograms, Robertson said, more than twice the permitted threshold in Kentucky horse racing. 

Robertson claimed the betamethasone was from a topical ointment, Otomax, that was used to treat a skin rash, not from an injection, and that DNA testing will confirm this. 

What To Watch For 

Churchill Downs’ reaction. Kentucky Derby officials previously said Medina Spirit would be disqualified and stripped of the Derby title if the split sample confirmed the presence of banned substances. If the horse is disqualified, the $1.86 million in prize money and the title will be passed to second-place finisher Mandaloun.

Key Background

Medina Spirit may become only the second horse to be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby in the race’s nearly 150-year history. Medina Spirit’s trainer, Baffert, was indefinitely suspended from future races at Churchill Downs over the horse’s first failed drug test. While Baffert is one of horse racing’s most decorated trainers, dozens of his horses have failed drug tests throughout his more than 40-year career. 

Further Reading

Kentucky Derby Winner Tests Positive For Banned Raceday Substance, Trainer Suspended (Forbes)

Kentucky Derby Winner Could Lose More Than $1.8 Million If Disqualified (Forbes)

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