Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit fails drug test

Medina Spirit, the winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby failed a drug test after testing positive for an anti-inflammatory.

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Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the race horse tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance used as an anti-inflammatory steroid, during a Sunday morning news conference at Churchill Downs, but denied he or his staff have ever used it, WAVE reported.

“I was totally shocked when I heard this news,” Baffert said. “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.”

Churchill Downs immediately suspended Baffert.

“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,” Churchill Downs officials said in a statement. “Churchill Downs will not tolerate it. Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

Baffert said the colt had not been treated with the medication, which is injected into joints to reduce pain and swelling. He and his team are investigating the test results.

>> Medina Spirit wins 147th Kentucky Derby

“It’s a complete injustice, and I’m going to fight it tooth and nail,” Baffert said. “I owe it to the horse, I owe it to the owner, and I owe it to our industry. Our industry needs to step up and we need to do a better job in racing.”

Another split sample will be tested, which will determine if the win will be disqualified. If the sample confirms the result, Baffert has a chance to appeal. A disqualification would strip the horse of the title and the money prize, The New York Times reported. It is unclear how long it will take the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to finish its investigation and determine if the results will stand.

With Medina Spirit’s win, Baffert won his seventh Kentucky Derby. The horse is expected to race Saturday at the Preakness Stakes.

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn’t do,” Baffert said of the failed test. “And it’s disturbing. It’s an injustice to the horse. ... I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now, but there’s something not right. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to do our own investigation. We’re going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we’ve always been.”

“He’s a great horse. He doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race.”

Dancer’s Image is the only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the 1968 Kentucky Derby.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.