Betamethasone is allowed in horse racing in certain amounts, but Baffert said he’d been informed Medina Spirit’s postrace test detected 21 picograms per milliliter — more than double the allowed limit in Kentucky racing.
The revelation came just over a week after Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, beating second-place Mandaloun by half a length. The win delivered Baffert a record seventh Derby victory.
A split sample from Medina Spirit’s postrace blood sample will now be tested, and if the original results are confirmed, Baffert will have a chance to appeal.
In the meantime, Churchill Downs said it “immediately suspended” Baffert “from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”
“Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate,” Churchill Downs said in a statement Sunday.
“We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s investigation before taking further steps.”
Baffert denied Medina Spirit has ever been treated with Betamethasone and said his team will conduct its own investigation.
“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,” Baffert said, calling the test results an “injustice to the horse.”
Preakness in doubt
Horse race enthusiasts are keeping an eye on how this will impact Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. The race at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course is the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
Organizers said they will “review the relevant facts and information” related to Medina Spirit’s positive blood test and are consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission on any decision regarding the horse’s entry in the Preakness Stakes.
Baffert alleges ‘problems in racing’
Baffert alluded to previous controversies on Sunday — “I don’t feel safe to train,” he said — but cast the allegation about Medina Spirit as an issue with the broader horse racing industry, saying the industry “needs to step up and we need to do a better job in racing.”
“I’m not a conspiracy (theorist) — I know everybody’s not out to get me. But there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening, you know, to me?” he asked. “There’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert.”