Medina Spirit has yet to be stripped of his 2021 Kentucky Derby victory, but that outcome has moved a step closer when the confirmation on Wednesday that a second (split sample) taken from Medina Spirit had also tested positive to the restricted substance betamethasone.
Immediately, on the back of that finding, Churchill Downs suspended trainer Bob Baffert for two years meaning the trainer will miss the next two Kentucky Derbies.
A strongly worded statement released by Churchill Downs’ CEO Bill Carstanjen did not mince words.
“Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable, and as a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated,” the statement said.
The statement went even further.
“Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby.
“Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility.”
And it went even further again … as the statement emphasised that Churchill Downs reserves the right to extend Baffert’s ban if violations surface in other racing jurisdictions.
The statement also addressed the point of any possible Medina Spirit disqualification, saying that authority does not lie with Churchill Downs.
“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (“KHRC”) has the sole authority to disqualify Medina Spirt as the winner of Kentucky Derby 147,” the statement says. “It is the understanding of CDI that the KHRC is pursuing the completion of its investigation of this matter in accordance with its rules and regulations.”
Baffert is also banned from Belmont Park. That decision was made after the first positive swab was announced after the Kentucky Derby.
At that time, the New York Racing Association announced that Baffert and his runners was banned from any of its tracks.
The NYRA oversees Belmont Park, which hosts the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. It also runs the Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack.