Medina Spirit, the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, failed a drug test after the race, putting his victory — and horse racing's integrity — in jeopardy.
Why it matters: Medina Spirit is Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year.
Details: The drug found in the horse's system was betamethasone, a steroid used to reduce pain and swelling. These kind of drugs can mask injuries, often leading to injuries or death.
What they're saying: Churchill Downs on Sunday suspended Baffert, who insisted that Medina Spirit had not been treated with the drug.
- "I don't feel embarrassed, I feel like I was wronged," said Baffert. "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.”
- He said he plans to run Medina Spirit at Saturday's Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the second leg of the Triple Crown.
- Preakness officials said they'll make a decision about the horse's eligibility after reviewing the facts.
The state of play: Medina Spirit can't be disqualified until a second sample, collected at the same time as the first, confirms the result. Those results are expected soon, per NYT.
- If the positive test is confirmed, Baffert can appeal. If he loses, the runner-up, Mandaloun, will be declared the winner.
- Medina Spirit would then be stripped of his title and the $1.8 million winning purse, joining Dancer's Image (1968) as the only Derby winners to receive drug-related disqualifications.
- The landmark legislation will establish an independent organization to regulate medication policy, which is currently handled differently by each state.
- It's set to take effect next July, and would see the Federal Trade Commission write rules and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency enforce penalties.
The last word, via SI's Pat Forde (subscription):