Kentucky Derby Winner MEDINA SPIRIT failed a postrace drug test. The colt’s blood sample was found to be in violation of the state’s medication protocols for racehorses.
Trainer Bob Baffert said his horse tested positive for the steroid betamethasone.
Rules in the state of Kentucky limits the use of the steroid to 14 days or more before a race. Any level of detection on race day is a violation.
If the violation is upheld after a second round of testing, MEDINA SPIRIT would be disqualified and 2nd-place finisher MANDALOUN named Winner of the Kentucky Derby.
There are many questions in this on-going story. Here are a few with definitive answers.
WHY DO HORSES USE BETAMETHASONT? It is a steroid used to reduce inflammation in the horse’s joints and is not considered a performance enhancing drug. But it can give horses an advantage over those without betamethasone in their system who wouldn’t feel the therapeutic effects while racing.
Kentucky limits the use of the steroid to 14 days or more before a race, so it clears a horse’s system before getting into the starting gate.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR HORSE & TRAINER? Baffert and the owners of MEDINA SPIRIT requested a second round of testing- a split sample from the colt. Using a split sample is a way of re-testing to verify the presence of the steroid. It could take beyond this week for the results of that sample to be analyzed, either clearing the record or leading to a DQ.
The plan as of Monday was for MEDINA SPIRIT and Baffert’s other Preakness runner, CONCERT TOUR to travel to Baltimore for the race on Saturday. Baffert himself will not be making the trip. His assistant Jimmy Barnes will saddle the horses if they run in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Preakness officials say they will decide on the entry of MEDINA SPIRIT after reviewing the facts, while pushing back the Post Position draw from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE PRIZE MONEY IN THE EVENT OF A DISQUALIFICATION? If MEDINA SPIRIT is disqualified from the Kentucky Derby, the $1.86 million Winner’s share of the purse money would go to the owners and trainer of 2nd-place finisher MANDALOUN.
DANCER’S IMAGE in 1968 is the only previous Derby Winner to be disqualified after the fact for failing a post-race drug test, in that instance for the presence of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone.
And the one you’ve been waiting for…
HOW WOULD IT EFFECT BETTORS IF THE HORSE IS DISQUALIFIED? This situation is unlike the 2019 Kentucky Derby when the Winner MAXIMUM SECURITY was disqualified for impeding other horses and COUNTRY HOUSE elevated to 1st place.
In this case, bettors won’t be effected either positively or negatively if the Victory by MEDINA SPIRIT is invalidated.
Because the race was deemed Official, no betting money will change hands one way or the other for those who had MEDINA SPIRIT or MANDALOUN Winning the Derby.
Regardless of the outcome of the second drug test, the Preakness Stakes will take place on Saturday with or without the Kentucky Derby Winner.