KENTUCKY — Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, trained by seven-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, stands to become the second horse in the history of the race to be disqualified for a failed drug test.

What You Need To Know

  • Bob Baffert's attorney confirmed that Medina Spirit failed his second drug test

  • Medina Spirit now stands to become the second horse in Derby history to be disqualified for failing a drug test

  • Baffert's attorney said other testing is being conducted, including DNA testing

  • Medina Spirit won the 147th Kentucky Derby last month

Baffert’s attorney confirmed the results in an email, acknowledging the Medina Spirit split sample confirmed the finding of betamethasone at 25 picograms.  

“There is other testing that is being conducted, including DNA testing,” said W. Craig Robertson III. “We expect this additional testing to confirm that the presence of the betamethasone was from the topical ointment, Otomax, and not an injection. At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax. We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”

Clark Brewster, a lawyer who represents Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan, told the New York Times the laboratory at the University of California, Davis confirmed that a second post-race sample found the drug betamethasone, a corticosteroid injected into joints to reduce pain and swelling, at a prohibited level.

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has suspended Baffert for two years effective immediately through the conclusion of the 2023 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs Racetrack, according to a press release. The suspension prohibits Baffert, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all CDI-owned racetracks.

“CDI has consistently advocated for strict medication regulations so that we can confidently ensure that horses are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “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. 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.”

CDI reserves the right to extend Baffert’s suspension if there are additional violations in any racing jurisdiction. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has the sole authority to disqualify Medina Spirt as the winner of Kentucky Derby 147. 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, according to the release.

KHRC Executive Director Marc Guilfoil said he had no comment about the results and the Commission does not provide comments or updates on the status of ongoing investigations.

"The KHRC values fairness and transparency and will provide information to the media and public at the close of an investigation," a spokesperson said. 


This story will be updated.