Lawyer: Medina Spirit second sample positive

A second drug test run on Medina Spirit confirmed the Kentucky Derby winner had an illegal drug in his system, which could lead the horse to be disqualified as the winner, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Only one winner in Derby history has been disqualified because of a failed drug test — Dancer’s Image in 1968.

The Bob Baffert-trained horse won the Kentucky Derby on May 1 at 12-1 odds, holding off 26-1 Mandaloun, 5-1 Hot Rod Charlie and 5-2 favorite Essential Quality in the stretch to prevail by a half-length under jockey John Velazquez, who won his fourth Kentucky Derby. It was a record seventh Derby win for Baffert.

Medina Spirit later tested positive for the presence of a steroid that helps horses alleviate discomfort in their joints. Baffert admitted to the use of the substance betamethasone, but said it was used as an anti-fungal medication for dermatitis just once leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Medina Spirit, John Valazquez

Clark Brewster, an attorney representing horse owner Amr Zedan, told the Times the second test was conducted at UC Davis and confirmed Medina Spirit had a prohibited amount of the drug in his blood and urine samples. He said the California lab did not test for other substances “which could prove the trace positive came from an inadvertent and materially inconsequential contamination sourced from a topical ointment used to treat Medina Spirit for a skin lesion on his hip.”

Samples To Be Sent To Independent Lab

The lawyer said the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will send the original samples to an independent lab to determine whether some other compound could have led to the positive test.

“If it was inadvertent contamination, that should be taken into account,” Brewster told the Times by telephone. “We’re hopeful that reasonable minds and good-intentioned regulators can see what it is, and what it is not, and not have a draconian response.”

The first positive test for Medina Spirit increased the scrutiny on Baffert, in light of 30 failed drug tests of horses he trained during his Hall of Fame career.

Bob Baffert
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Medina Spirit was subject to additional screening before being allowed to race at the Preakness Stakes last month without Baffert present and finished third. Rombauer was the winner.

On Saturday at the Belmont Stakes in New York, Medina Spirit won’t be in the field. The New York Racing Association has banned Baffert horses from competing at its tracks, for now. Baffert is the leading trainer in the current meet at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., where his horses are permitted to race.

Should Medina Spirit’s win in the Kentucky Derby be overturned and Mandaloun named the victor, Zedan will be forced to return $1.8 million in first-place winnings.

Zedan’s stable also has been named a co-defendant in a class-action lawsuit that accuses Baffert, 68, of racketeering. The suit was filed by bettors who say they were denied winnings because of Medina Spirit’s finish.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)