Failed Drug Test Confirmed for Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit

The Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s post-race constructive drug take a look at was confirmed, setting the stage for the colt skilled by Bob Baffert to be the second horse within the 147-year historical past of America’s biggest race to be disqualified for a failed drug take a look at.

Clark Brewster, a lawyer who represents Medina Spirit proprietor Amr Zedan, mentioned the laboratory on the University of California, Davis confirmed {that a} second post-race pattern discovered the drug betamethasone, a corticosteroid injected into joints to scale back ache and swelling, at a prohibited stage.

In a textual content message, nonetheless, Brewster mentioned the laboratory didn’t take a look at the blood or urine samples for the presence of different 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.”

Immediately after asserting Medina Spirit’s constructive take a look at on May 9, Baffert gave a collection of tv and radio interviews, floating various theories about how the colt had examined constructive for betamethasone — blaming “cancel culture” for the controversy and saying racing officers had been out to get him.

He quickly reversed himself, nonetheless, and acknowledged treating Medina Spirit for a rash through the use of an antifungal ointment known as Otomax, which — to Baffert’s professed shock — contained betamethasone.

Brewster mentioned the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has agreed to ship the unique blood and urine assessments to an impartial and accredited laboratory for evaluation to find out whether or not the specimens include different elements proving the supply to be the topical ointment.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified from the Derby, Zedan will forfeit the greater than $1.eight million first place test he earned for crossing the end line first. In 1968, Dancer’s Image’s Derby victory was taken away after a drug take a look at confirmed the presence of a banned anti-inflammatory.

“If it was inadvertent contamination, that should be taken into account,” mentioned Brewster in a phone interview. “We’re hopeful that reasonable minds and good-intentioned regulators can see what it is, and what it is not, and not have a draconian response.”

Brewster. who breeds and owns horses, mentioned that the fee has foregone disqualifications in earlier instances when it discovered mitigating circumstances.

Neither Baffert nor his lawyer, W. Craig Robertson III, returned emails or cellphone calls for remark.

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to touch upon the outcomes of the second pattern.

“The KHRC is not going to be providing comment or updates on the status of this ongoing investigation. We will provide information when the entire matter is complete,” mentioned Sherelle Roberts.

Baffert already has earned the ire of Churchill Downs officers who’ve made it clear that if a second pattern confirmed the presence of the drug, Medina Spirit can be disqualified and Mandaloun, the runner-up, can be declared the Derby winner.

The Medina Spirit controversy comes as horse racing, acknowledging it has a drug downside, prepares to implement the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which was handed final 12 months in Congress. It will take impact July 1, 2022, and calls for a board overseen by the Federal Trade Commission to write down guidelines and penalties to be enforced by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The company, which regulates Olympic and different elite athletes within the United States, revealed the cyclist Lance Armstrong’s cheating and issued him a lifetime suspension in 2012.

In the span of 4 weeks throughout racing’s Triple Crown season, Baffert has gone from being the garrulous and voluble face of horse racing to a principally silent poster boy for what’s improper with the game.

For 25 years, New York City has been Baffert’s type of city and Belmont Park has been the racetrack that made him if essentially the most well-known thoroughbred coach in America. Five instances, he has introduced the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner for the “Test of the Champion,” because the Belmont Stakes is thought, with a Triple Crown hanging within the stability.

With American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2017, Baffert accomplished the sweep of the game’s holy grail and left the town a conquering hero, bringing renewed consideration to an often-forgotten sport. Over the years, he has thrown out the primary pitch at a New York Mets sport, dined in Manhattan’s most interesting eating places and good-naturedly accepted the heckles and hurrahs from the Big Apple’s impassioned horseplayers.

For the 153rd operating of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, nonetheless, Baffert can be in California after the New York Racing Association barred him from operating his horses at state tracks due to Medina Spirit’s failed take a look at. He has been shut out of one of many largest days of horse racing.

While monitor operators in New York and at Churchill Downs have refused to permit Baffert to enter his horses, his highly effective steady continues to dominate races in California. He is the main coach at Santa Anita Park’s present meet with greater than $3.6 million in earnings. The monitor is personal by the Stronach Group, which additionally owns Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and allowed Medina Spirit to race within the Preakness after passing expanded drug testing.

The California Horse Racing Board mentioned in a press release that like their counterparts in New York and Kentucky, their palms had been tied till Medina Spirit’s second pattern is confirmed and a grievance filed towards Baffert.

“They face the same issue the CHRB does in that regulators cannot suspend or revoke occupational licenses without a hearing and due process,” the assertion mentioned. “Should any regulatory body take action against any licensee, we would reciprocate that action in California.”

Baffert has gained the enmity of rivals who imagine he has persistently cheated, suspicions fueled by 30 drug assessments his horses have failed over 4 many years, together with 5 within the final 12 months or so.

The instances took months, if not years, to adjudicate and had been met principally with modest fines or temporary suspensions as Baffert asserted he did nothing improper and blamed environmental contamination or human error for the outcomes. Still, deep-pocketed house owners flock to Baffert’s steady.

In 2019, The New York Times reported that Justify, additionally skilled by Baffert, had failed a drug take a look at after successful the 2018 Santa Anita Derby in Southern California. The rule on the time required that Justify be disqualified, forfeiting his prize cash and stopping his entry into the Kentucky Derby a month later.

The California Horse Racing Board’s chairman on the time, Chuck Winner, had employed Baffert to coach his horses. Justify’s failed take a look at was investigated for 4 months, permitting the horse to maintain competing lengthy sufficient to win not solely the Derby, but in addition the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes to change into the 13th Triple Crown winner. His post-race assessments had been clear in all three.

In August 2018, after Justify’s breeding rights had been offered for $60 million, the racing board’s medical director instructed the unlawful substance might need been current in some jimsonweed the horse ate. The board disposed of the inquiry altogether throughout a uncommon closed-door session.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, Baffert and the colt will be part of Maximum Security and Dancer’s Image as the one horses to have their Derby victories overturned.

In 2019, Maximum Security was first throughout the end line, only to be disqualified for almost knocking over a rival horse within the far flip and slowing the momentum of others. The subsequent 12 months, Maximum Security’s coach, Jason Servis, was among the many 27 people charged by federal prosecutors in a wide-ranging scheme to secretly dope horses and cheat the betting public.

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