Bob Baffert's Medina Spirit Fails Post-Race Drug Test After 2021 Kentucky Derby Win

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 9, 2021

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01:  Medina Spirit (8) ridden by John Velasquez leads on the inside coming through the final turn and wins the 147th Running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2021 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone after the race, trainer Bob Baffert revealed Sunday.

Baffert held a press conference alongside his legal team, denying he gave the horse any illegal substances. He called the positive test "the biggest gut punch in racing" and added that he "does not feel safe to train."

The trainer, who won his seventh Kentucky Derby on May 1, plans to launch his own investigation into the matter and to fight the allegations. Baffert added that he plans on sending Medina Spirit to Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

Churchill Downs released a statement Sunday in light of the news, suspending Baffert from entering any horses at its race track:

Marty Smith @MartySmithESPN

Statement from Churchill Downs below, regarding this morning’s news about #KentuckyDerby147 winner Medina Spirit. <br><br>“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.” pic.twitter.com/xQeYxZd8DL

Darren Rovell of The Action Network noted bettors who took Medina Spirit at 12-1 odds will keep their payout regardless of the result of the investigation. However, all purses from the Kentucky Derby earned by Baffert, jockey John Velazquez and Medina Spirit's ownership group would be forfeited.

Horses trained by Baffert have failed drug tests several times in recent years. Betamethasone was at the center of a controversy last year when Gamine, Baffert's third-place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks, tested positive for the corticosteroid.

Split tests subsequently confirmed betamethasone in Gamine's system.

Baffert acknowledged there is a problem with doping in horse racing but denied any responsibility for Medina Spirit's positive test.

"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."

Mandaloun would be awarded the 2021 Kentucky Derby win if Medina Spirit is stripped of the title.