Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert revealed a possible cause for Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit‘s failed post-race drug test on Tuesday, citing an ointment the horse had used since running in the Santa Anita Derby on April 3.
In a prepared statement, Baffert said Medina Spirit had been treated daily with Otomax, an anti-fungal ointment that he says he has since learned includes the steroid betamethasone.
“Following the Santa Anita Derby, Medina Spirit developed dermatitis on his hind end. I had him checked out by my veterinarian who recommended the use of an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax. The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis and prevent it from spreading,” the statement read, in part.
“My barn followed this recommendation and Medina Spirit was treated with Otomax once a day up until the day before the Kentucky Derby,” per Baffert’s statement. “(Monday), I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax is betamethasone. While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit’s post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results. As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information.”
Test results showed Medina Spirit had more than twice the state-allowed amount of betamethasone. Part of the original sample will be re-tested.
Bob Baffert Denies Any Wrongdoing
Baffert has denied any attempt to circumvent the rules and says he’s continuing his own investigation.
“As I have stated, my investigation is continuing and we do not know for sure if this ointment was the cause of the test results, or if the test results are even accurate, as they have yet to be confirmed by the split sample. However, again, I have been told that a finding of a small amount, such as 21 picograms, could be consistent with application of this type of ointment. I intend to continue to investigate and I will continue to be transparent.”
Churchill Downs has suspended Baffert from entering horses at the track.
Baffert’s record seventh Derby title is no certainty now, pending his appeal of the violation. Medina Spirit could be disqualified, giving the victory to second-place Mandaloun.
Medina Spirit, meanwhile, will be vanned to Baltimore ahead of Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. Baffert said Monday that he wouldn’t be on hand at Pimlico Race Course for the second leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown because he believes he’d be a distraction.
Baffert has had seven winners in the Preakness, but the Maryland Jockey Club and Pimlico officials are waiting for a full review of the facts before any ruling on Medina Spirit’s status.
Because of that, the post-position draw for the 146th Preakness was pushed back a day and will be held at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.
The controversy is the fifth for Baffert in just more than a year. The New York Times reported last fall that Baffert has been cited 29 times over four decades.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)