UPDATE: Churchill Downs suspends Baffert, Derby win in jeopardy after test result

Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone, double the legal threshold in Kentucky racing, in a postrace sample.

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UPDATE: LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – This could be a historic upset for trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert holding a press conference Sunday morning…our ABC affiliate WHAS 11 was there.

“Yesterday I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something that I didn’t do” said Baffert.

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His Derby winning horse, Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, though Baffert is sticking by his claim that he nor his team ever gave the horse the drug.

“It’s disturbing, it’s an injustice to the horse….I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now but there’s something not right.”

He says there are problems in racing but it’s not him, and that this news is shocking.

“I don’t feel embarrassed, I feel like I was wronged, and we’re going to do a complete, our own investigation we’re going be  transparent with the racing commission like we’ve always been.”

Churchill Downs responded to the test results, suspending Baffert from entering any horses at the track until the conclusion of the investigation. Part of their statement read…

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner.”

Medina Spirit is the 7th Kentucky Derby winner for Baffert, the most in history. But, that win, the record and purse winnings will be stripped from him if the second test comes back positive.

Medina Spirit is not disqualified from the Derby yet. The split sample has yet to be tested to confirm that positive result.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ORIGINAL STORY ) (AP/WTVQ) — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday that his barn has been told Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test, the latest doping scandal for horse racing and arguably the sport’s premier trainer.

Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson in a morning news conference at Churchill Downs on Sunday, Baffert said Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone, double the legal threshold in Kentucky racing, in a postrace sample.

That is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September.

Later Sunday morning, the Kentucky Derby issued a statement saying if the results are confirmed, the horse’s Derby win would be nullified.

“It is our understanding that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s post-race blood sample indicated a violation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s equine medication protocols. The connections of Medina Spirit have the right to request a test of a split sample and we understand they intend to do so. To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” The statement said.

“Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it. Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack. We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions’ investigation before taking further steps,” the statement concluded.

Baffert denied any wrongdoing and said he did not know how Medina Spirit could have tested positive. He said Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone and called it “a complete injustice.”

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing, for something I didn’t do,” said Baffert, who vowed to be transparent with racing investigators.

Baffert said his camp received the word of the positive test from Kentucky officials on Saturday. Baffert said Medina Spirit has not yet been officially disqualified from the Kentucky Derby, though that still could happen after other tests and processes are completed.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” Baffert said. “There’s a problem somewhere. It didn’t come from us.”

Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby on May 1 by a half-length over Mandaloun, giving Baffert his recordsetting seventh victory in the race that starts the Triple Crown season. Medina Spirit is still expected to race in the Preakness, the Triple Crown’s second jewel, on Saturday.

“He ran a gallant race,” Baffert said.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission, which had suspended him for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at Oaklawn Park on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for lidocaine, a painkiller, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

“There’s problems in racing,” Baffert said. “But it’s not Bob Baffert.”

The New York Times said in November 2020 that Baffert-trained horses have failed at least 29 drug tests in his four-decade career.

“I’m worried about our sport,” Baffert said. “Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.”

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com