Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s win will be voided if the champion horse is confirmed to have failed a drug test. Churchill Downs said on Sunday:.
Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, will be immediately banned from competing with horses in races at Churchill Downs circuit “given the seriousness of the alleged violation,” the statement from the company that runs the Derby said.
“Failing to follow the rules and medication protocols endangers the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all participants. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” the press release said.
If the finding is confirmed, runner-up Mandaloun will be declared the winner of the race, Churchill Downs said.
Baffert denied all allegations on Sunday morning. He revealed at a press conference that in a post-race test, Medina Spirit had 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone in his bloodstream.
While that drug can be used legally on a horse in Kentucky, any trace of it on race day is grounds for disqualification if a second test confirms it was in the blood that day.
“I got the biggest gut in racing, for something I didn’t do,” said Baffert.
Only two other horses in the 147-year history of the Kentucky Derby have been disqualified, according to the Associated Press.
“We understand that the post-race blood sample from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit indicated a violation of Commonwealth of Kentucky medication protocols,” the Churchill Downs press release said.
“Medina Spirit’s connections have the right to request a split sample test and we understand that they intend to do so,” the company said.
“We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s investigation before taking any further steps.”
— With coverage from The Associated Press.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that there was a maximum allowable limit of betamethasone in a horse on race day in Kentucky under the regulations there. In fact, any trace of that steroid in a horse is grounds for disqualification if subsequent tests confirm its presence on race day.