Coach Bob Baffert congratulates jockey John Velazquez after Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby earlier this month
Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who gave coach Bob Baffert a seventh record win in the race, failed a drug test.
Baffert said he was “shocked” after the horse was tested above the limit for betamethasone and insisted that he never administered the substance.
“I got the biggest punch in the race for something I didn’t do,” he said.
Medina Spirit, ridden by John Velazquez, won America’s most famous race at Churchill Downs on May 1st.
68-year-old Baffert became the first coach to win the US Triple Crown for 37 years when American Pharoah completed the 2015 treble in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
The Hall of Fame trainer repeated the hat trick with Justify three years later.
But on Sunday he told reporters that Medina Spirit tested positive 21 picograms of the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone, above the ten picograms per milliliter threshold in Kentucky.
“It’s such an injustice for the horse. I’m not ashamed, I feel robbed,” said the California-based trainer.
“But I’ll fight it tooth and nail because I owe it to the horse; I owe it to the owner and I owe it to our industry.
“There are problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but why is it happening to me?”
Baffert with the trophy after the 147th edition of the ‘Run for the Roses’
Baffert said Medina Spirit has not yet been officially banned from the Kentucky Derby, although it could still happen after other tests and processes are completed.
“That shouldn’t have happened,” said Baffert. “There’s a problem somewhere. It didn’t come from us.”
Churchill Downs has banned Baffert from participating in races.
“If the results are confirmed, Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby results will be void and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” said a statement.
“Failure to follow rules and medication protocols endangers the safety of horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport, and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and everyone involved. Churchill Downs will not tolerate this.”
The trainer promised “get better” last year after a series of positive tests on his horses.
Last month, he managed to lift a 15-day ban and disqualification of two of his horses – Gamine and Charlatan – after they returned samples containing the illegal race-day drug lidocaine, which was due to cross-contamination from a pain reliever he was wearing was due to the assistant of the trainer.
Baffert was instead fined $ 10,000.