LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Bob Baffert’s lawyer said Wednesday that a split-sample test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone, which could lead to the horse’s disqualification and discipline for the Hall of Fame trainer.
Attorney Craig Robertson said the test showed 25 picograms of the steroid, after 21 picograms were found initially. Even a trace amount of betamethasone is prohibited on race day in Kentucky and considered a violation.
Robertson said additional testing is being conducted to try to trace the source of the drug to an ointment to treat a skin infection and not an injection. He and Clark Brewster, who represents Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan, said they expect tests to show the ointment is responsible and not injections into one of the horse’s joints.
“I think that will shed the light most prominently on the issue here for us,” Brewster told The Associated Press by phone. “The whole basis for listing betamethasone is because it’s injected into a joint and they want you not to inject the joints too close to the race, so the whole substantive basis is out the window if it’s a salve, and it can be proven scientifically and empirically to be the salve.”
Rules in Kentucky do not differentiate punishment based on the source of the substance, which can be given to horses to help their joints and Baffert believes came from the dermatitis ointment. Churchill Downs said Medina Spirit would be disqualified if the split sample came back positive for betamethasone.
A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Sherelle Roberts-Pierre said the commission “values fairness and transparency and will provide information to the media and public at the close of an investigation.”
A Churchill Downs spokesman said the track is awaiting official notification of the split-sample test results from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
If Medina Spirit is disqualified, Mandaloun would be elevated as the winner of the Kentucky Derby.
Baffert is currently suspended by New York and not allowed to enter any horses in this weekend’s Belmont Stakes pending the Derby investigation.