On Monday, Medina Spirit will travel to Baltimore under close observation.
The Kentucky Derby winner tested positive for the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone in the first leg of the Triple Crown, Hall of Fame coach Bob Baffert said on Sunday morning and is now facing a potentially historic disqualification. Baffert, who said his team never treated the stallion with the drug, is still planning to run him in Saturday’s Preakness.
After Medina Spirit arrives in Pimlico, Baltimore on Monday afternoon, here’s what you need to know.
What is betamethasone?
Betamethasone is an artificial steroid used as a therapeutic drug in horse racing, often for joint pain.
In Kentucky, betamethasone is legal in training, but must be administered no later than 14 days before a race. Any evidence of betamethasone is a violation; Medina Spirit’s first blood and urine tests, conducted on May 1, showed 21 picograms of betamethasone per milliliter of plasma, Baffert said on Sunday. One picogram is equal to one trillionth of a gram.
“Medina Spirit has never been treated [with] Betamethasone, ”Baffert said at a press conference outside his barn in Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. “I got the biggest punch in racing for something I didn’t do. It’s unsettling; it is an injustice to the horse. “
Who is Bob Baffert?
With over 3,000 career wins, 68-year-old Baffert is considered one of the greatest coaches in the long history of the sport.
Baffert’s horses, led by 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, have won seven Kentucky Derbies, seven Preakness Stakes, three Belmont Stakes and three Kentucky Oaks. No coach has won more preakness titles than Baffert (seven), who with first place in Medina Spirit also became the most victorious coach in derby history (seven).
But Baffert has been haunted by controversy in recent years. Justify tested positive for the drug scopolamine, which can help optimize a horse’s heart rate, after winning the 2018 Santa Anita Derby. The result was attributed to the presence of naturally occurring Jimson weeds in the horse’s forage or litter left in Baffert’s stable and that of several other trainers, and the case was discontinued.
The story goes on
Baffert had also lifted the disqualifications of two horses, Charlatan and Gamine, after the couple tested positive for excessive amounts of lidocaine, a widely used local anesthetic, on Arkansas Derby Day last year. Baffert’s attorney, W. Craig Robertson, argued that the positive results were due to Baffert’s assistant inadvertently transferring the lidocaine from a Salonpas pain relief patch to the horses.
Charlatan’s victory in the Arkansas Derby and Gamine’s victory in a bonus race were reinstated, and Baffert’s 15-day ban from the Arkansas Racing Commission was lifted. However, he was fined $ 5,000 for each horse.
Gamine tested positive for betamethasone at the Kentucky Oaks later last year. Baffert waived his right to appeal and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission fined Baffert $ 1,500 and disqualified the filly from third place. Robertson said in a statement that Gamine was given 18 days before the Oaks betamethasone, but Gamine’s test returned 27 picograms of betamethasone, above Kentucky’s previous 10 picograms threshold for the drug.
Will Medina Spirits Kentucky Derby win?
According to Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s regulations, a second positive test is required before a horse can be disqualified, meaning Medina Spirit’s Derby win over Mandaloun stands for now. The only horse disqualified for medication after winning the derby is Dancer’s Image from 1968.
The so-called split-sample test examines the remaining blood and urine samples. Baffert said on Sunday that he did not know when the result of the split sample would be available. Mary Scollay, executive director at the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, told the Washington Post that the testing process can take two weeks to a month, and sometimes longer.
Baffert, who promised to be completely transparent to the commission during his investigation, was suspended from riding horses at Churchill Downs.
“Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” track officials said in a statement on Sunday. “Given the gravity of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately ban Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from reporting horses on the Churchill Downs Racetrack.”
Will Medina Spirit run in Preakness?
Baffert said he still plans to get into Medina Spirit for Saturday’s Preakness.
In a statement on Sunday, the Maryland Jockey Club, which runs the Pimlico Race Course and Preakness, said it would “review the relevant facts” before deciding on the horse’s status for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
“We strive to achieve the highest standards for horse care and safety, and we can demonstrably advance these standards,” reads the statement from the club and its parent company 1 / ST Racing.
Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said Medina Spirit will have a blood sample drawn for testing upon arrival in Maryland and will be tested after preakness if he gets in the top three. Betamethasone is also a regulated drug in Maryland, which means it would trigger a violation if it showed up in a test sample on race day.
Officials postponed the preakness draw to Tuesday afternoon and postponed it for one day given the uncertainty on Sunday. There are 10 horses that are considered likely to be running.