The late Medina Spirit has been stripped of last year’s victory at the Kentucky Derby as the horse tested positive for a banned drug. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced the news on Monday and with the disqualification, Mandaloun has been declared the new winner. Medina Spirit’s jockey, Bob Baffert, who is in a massive feud with Churchill Downs, the racetrack that hosts the Kentucky Derby, was suspended.
Medina Spirit Tested Positive for Betamethasone
In the race, Medina Spirit finished half a length in front of Mandaloun but was stripped of the title as the horse tested positive for betamethasone. This drug is legal in Kentucky, but it cannot be used on race day.
This marks the third overall time in Kentucky Derby’s history that a winning horse has been penalized. Two of these disqualifications are due to banned substances. The first horse to be hit with a DQ was Dancer’s Image in 1968. After Dancer’s Image disqualification, Forward Pass was declared the winner. Maximum Security was penalized for interference.
In a statement, Churchill Downs saluted the new winner and congratulated Florent Geroux (jockey), Juddmonte Farms (breeder) and Brad Cox (trainer). The owners of Mandaloun will receive Kentucky Derby’s $1.8 million prize and with the ruling, Cox becomes the first Louisville native in history to win this prestigious race. The new Derby winner paddock sign is likely to be replaced today (Tuesday).
Bob Baffert Was Suspended and Fined $7,500
Medina Spirit’s jockey was also penalized on Monday. In the ruling, the commission handed him a 90-day suspension and a $7,500 fine. Baffert’s lawyer, Clark Brewster, stated that he will be appealing the ruling.
Brewster considers the ruling to be far from “both the facts and the law.” According to him, the statements released by the commission in the past couple of months made it clear that Baffert’s fate was already sealed and decided long before the hearing took place. He also added that one of the three stewards that brought the decisions is a Churchill Downs employee and works as Turfway Park’s racing director.
Marty Irby, the Animal Wellness Action executive director, issued gratitude towards the stewards’ decision. He said that Baffert is continuously dragging one horse racing scandal after another. That is why he called for every commission to hold him accountable and noted that the Kentucky Derby will have far more credibility without him.
Medina Spirit’s cause of death was a heart attack. The horse died on December 6, 2021, after a training run at Santa Anita. Initially, Baffert denied the allegations saying that he did not have any idea how the drug got into Medina Spirit’s system. However, Baffert later confessed to treating Medina Spirit with topical ointment that had the substance.
Baffert’s attorneys used that as a defense, saying that the drug wasn’t injected, but the commission did not buy the argument. Craig Robertson, Baffert’s attorney based in Louisville, stated that he’s disappointed in the ruling as it is contrary to the scientifically proven facts.
Mandaloun is declared the new winner, but there won’t be any payouts or refunds for those that wagered on the horse to win the Derby.