Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test, trainer Bob Baffert said on Sunday. Churchill Downs announced the immediate suspension of the Hall of Fame trainer as officials consider stripping the horse of its title.
The 3-year-old brown colt, who was awarded the prestigious racing prize on May 1, tested positive for elevated levels of the anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, betamethasone, Baffert said at a press conference.
Baffert expressed shock at the news and said that though he’s “not a conspiracy theorist,” he felt targeted.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Medina Spirit, ridden by John Velasquez, is seen during the 147th Kentucky Derby on May 1, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I’m still trying to absorb it. I am the most scrutinized trainer. And I am OK with that. The last thing I want to do is something that would jeopardize the greatest sport,” he said “I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert.”
Churchill Downs said Medina Spirit’s win is now in jeopardy, pending the result of additional testing.
“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 racetrack said in a statement that also announced the immediate suspension of Baffert from future race participation.
Andy Lyons via Getty Images Trainer Bob Baffert raises the trophy after winning the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit, his seventh career Derby win.
“We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions’ investigation before taking further steps,” it said.
Baffert won his record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit, which is his fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year, The Associated Press reported.
Only one horse has been disqualified for medication after winning the Derby and that was Dancer’s Image in 1968.
Former President Donald Trump was among the first to react to the news on Sunday, calling Medina Spirit “a junky.”
“This is emblematic of what is happening to our country,” he said in a statement shared on social media that decried his 2020 reelection loss.