Urine testing from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit showed that a steroid in the foal’s system was from a topical ointment and not an injection, according to an attorney for trainer Bob Baffert.
Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone after winning the May 1 race and faces disqualification. Baffert had said that an ointment was used daily to treat the foal for a skin condition until the Derby included the substance. Betamethasone is a legal substance, but it’s not allowed on race day in Kentucky, Maryland, and New York City, where the Triple Crown Series takes place.
Craig Robertson, Baffert’s attorney, said Friday evening that the split sample test had been performed by a lab in New York City.
“It has now been scientifically proven that what Bob Baffert said from the start was true – Medina Spirit never received an injection of betamethasone and the findings that followed the Kentucky Derby were only the result of treating the horse for a skin condition using a topical. ointment – all under the direction of the Medina Spirit vet, ”Robertson said in an email.
Robertson said that the betamethasone in one injection is betamethasone acetate, while the betamethasone in the topical ointment is betamethasone valerate. He said the Kentucky racing rules only regulate betamethasone acetate.
Robertson said tests from the New York lab confirmed both the presence of betamethasone valerate and the absence of betamethasone acetate.
“This should definitely solve the problem in Kentucky and Medina Spirit should remain the official winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby,” said Robertson. “Since May, Mr. Baffert has been the subject of an unfair rush to trial. We have always asked everyone to wait for the facts and the science to be revealed. “
An attorney for Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan also confirmed the results of split-sample testing by Dr. George Maylin, director of the New York Drug Testing & Research Program.
“The Kentucky Racing Commission has firmly promulgated rules for injecting corticosteroids into the joints and has established a clear rule that no injections are allowed within 14 days of a race,” lawyer Clark Brewster said. . “Now there is no doubt that the 14-day rule, according to which some people might have been broken by previous, less specific tests, is turning out to be a premature judgment. This baseless accusation has no scientific basis.
However, it remains to be decided whether the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will determine that testing proving that the drug was administered by ointment and not by injection could create enough doubt that the positive Medina Spirit test could be rejected.
Coaches are held responsible for the post-race drug discoveries, although Robertson successfully argued earlier this year that two drug violations involving Baffert horses in Arkansas in 2020 were the result of accidental contamination. The National Racing Commission overturned Baffert’s suspensions and returned the purse money while limiting his sentence to fines.
Following the failed Medina Spirit test, Baffert was suspended by Churchill Downs and banned from entering horses in the 2022 and 2023 Kentucky Derby. He was also banned by the New York Racing Association from entering horses on its Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct tracks.
Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness after the colt went through three sets of pre-race tests in order to compete. The most recent colt finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar last month.
Baffert has had five infractions involving unacceptable levels of drugs in his horses in the past 13 months.
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