Luke Sharrett, Getty The spit-sample test from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the steroid betamethasone, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, and it means the horse’s win at Churchill Downs is in jeopardy of being disqualified. Trainer Bob Baffert may now be facing more discipline than he already has since his horse failed its post-race drug test after winning the Kentucky Derby.
Betamethasone is prohibited in any amount for the race, and Baffert’s attorney Craig Robertson said 25 picograms of it were found in Medina Spirit’s system in the second test. Originally, in the post-Kentucky Derby test, 21 picograms of the steroid were found in the horse.
Churchill Downs said before the results of the spit-sample test that if it came back positive for the drug, Medina Spirit would be disqualified. As of Wednesday afternoon, the track had not made any announcement related to Medina Spirit.
Clark Brewster, who represents Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan, told the AP that further tests will eventually prove the betamethasone levels were high because there were used as an ointment to treat a skin infection on the horse — not because the animal was injected with the substance.
“I think that will shed the light most prominently on the issue here for us,” Zedan said. “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.”
However, as the AP pointed out, in Kentucky, the rules around legal betamethasone levels are not different based on where the substance comes from (whether it is from an ointment or injection.)
If Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win is disqualified, Mandaloun would be recognized as the winner of the race. Baffert was previously suspended and remains suspended by New York. He is currently prohibited from entering horses in the Belmont Stakes.