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Baffert facing two year ban after Medina Spirit returns second positive sample

By Jon Vine
03 Jun 2021
  • We bring you the news that Medina Spirit has returned a second positive sample for betamethasone
  • Bob Baffert's three-year-old first tested positive after his Kentucky Derby win
  • Baffert now faces a two-year ban from America's most famous horse race
bob baffert
Bob Baffert the trainer of Medina Spirit talks to the media during the training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Getty)
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Trainer, Bob Baffert may not be able to run his horses in the Kentucky Derby for the next two years, after Medina Spirit's second sample also returned positive.

Medina Spirit's first positive sample for betamethasone - a steriod used to reduce inflammation - occurred just after his victory in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Baffert immediately appealed the decision to strip Medina Spirit of that Classic, meaning a second blood sample would be sent off to a lab of his choosing.

This week, the results of the second sample came back, and again they showed traces of betamethasone were present in Medina Spirit's system when he won the Kentucky Derby.

It hasn't been officially announced that Medina Spirit will be thrown out of the Kentucky Derby, handing the race to runner-up Mandaloun. However, Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen did announce that Baffert is facing a two year ban from having runners at that famous racetrack.

“Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable." Carstanjen said. 

"As a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated.”

“Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby. Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility.” 

Baffert has always protested his innocence, reeling off a range of excuses as to how this antiinflammatory might have gotten into Medina Spirit's systems. 

His most recent excuse is that his Kentucky Derby winner has been treated for dermatitis using the anti-fungal ointment Otomax, which contains betamethasone. However, that and similar treatments must not take place in the 14 days leading up to a race, and for betamethasone to show up in the horse's blood stream, that rule must have been broken.

Baffert now faces a battle to clear his name, and many other courses in the USA could follow Churchill Downs' example, and bad all of Baffert's runners from passing through their gates.

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