News and STORIES
Kentucky Derby Hero Medina Spirit Fails Post-Race Drug Test
Published: Monday May 10, 2021
Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test following his victory in the Kentucky Derby just over seven days ago. It was revealed by the trainer on Sunday afternoon that the three-year-old had failed the test, as he had increased levels of betamethasone in his blood.
The victory has threatened to once again question the training methods of Baffert, who has been accused of using banned substances in his horses on 29 previous occasions. But, what happens next, and what impact could the failed test have on the upcoming Preakness Stakes?
Baffert Vows To Fight Positive Test
Baffert has vowed to fight the positive test, as he stated in a press conference at Churchill Downs on Sunday that he is innocent. He also called the accusations ‘shocking’ and called it one of the biggest ‘gut punches’ that he has received in his career. Baffert has been suspended at present, but final consequences will be announced after the result of the second test taken after the Kentucky Derby has come back. The positive result would put more scrutiny under Baffert, as the Hall of Famer has had five positive drug tests for horses in his care in just over 12 months.
It could be a tense couple of days for connections, as a positive result in the second test could mean that Medina Spirit would be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby and his victory overturned. If that is the case, the winnings from the race would need to be returned. There is precedence for this in the past, as two previous winners have had their wins overturned in the past 147 years. It is likely that the result from the second test could come after the Preakness Stakes this coming weekend, and if that test is also positive, Baffert would have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
What Does It Mean For The Preakness Stakes?
Officials at the home of the Kentucky Derby admitted that a second positive would see Mandaloun crowned winner of the Triple Crown race as he finished in second. The statement from Churchill Downs also revealed that Baffert would be banned from making entries to races at their track until the investigation is concluded.
Where it leaves Baffert and Medina Spirit when it comes to the Preakness Stakes is still anyone’s guess. The track is yet to respond to the positive test, but an announcement regarding whether the three-year-old could be made as soon as Monday evening. There could also be repercussions for Baffert. If Preakness officials make the same stand as Churchill Downs, then he will be unable to send any runners to Pimlico to compete this weekend. That could mean that Concert Tour is also out of the running for the race. Should that happen, there would be a huge shift in the betting markets, as Medina Spirit and Concert Tour are currently the two favorites in the betting for the featured race this coming Saturday.
What Is The Likely Outcome?
We can use a past example to assess whether the punishments will be harsh on Baffert. Back in 2011, previous Preakness Stakes-winning trainer Rick Dutrow was accused of similar doping violations to the ones that have been pressed against Baffert. Dutrow was handed one of the lengthiest bans in the sport, as he was banned from training in the United States for ten years.
However, harsh punishments for doping violations are few and far between. The Jockey Club also addressed the situation in a statement and revealed they were ‘troubled’ by the allegations. The story looks set to rumble on for days and potentially weeks to come, but we will keep you updated right here.