The horse that won the Kentucky Derby failed a postrace drug test, renewing questions about its trainer

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Kentucky Derby
Medina Spirit, ridden by the jockey John Velazquez, led the field to the first turn during the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1 in Louisville, Kentucky. Sarah Stier/Getty Images
  • Medina Spirit, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby, failed a postrace drug test.

  • According to The New York Times, the horse tested positive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid.

  • If another test confirms the drug was used, Medina Spirit will be stripped of the wining title.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Medina Spirit, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby earlier in May, failed a postrace drug test, raising questions about its Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, whom rivals have previously accused of cheating.

The horse, which won the race May 1, tested positive for the drug betamethasone, an injectable corticosteroid that is used to reduce pain and swelling in joints, The New York Times reported.

Baffert denied that he or anyone on his team had administered the drug.

"I was totally shocked when I heard this news," Baffert said at a news conference Sunday. "I'm still trying to absorb it. I am the most scrutinized trainer. And I am OK with that. The last thing I want to do is something that would jeopardize the greatest sport."

Baffert on Sunday at the news conference with his lawyer said the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the steroid - double the permitted level of the substance, according to ESPN.

He said he was "worried" about the sport.

"This is a pretty serious accusation," Baffert said. "We're doing to get to the bottom of it. We didn't do it."

If a subsequent test confirms that the drug was present in the horse, Medina Spirit will be stripped of the title. Churchill Downs on Sunday announced it had suspended Baffert.

"Churchill Downs will not tolerate it," the organization said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack."

"To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit's results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner," it added.

Medina Spirit's win gave Baffert seven Derby wins - which surpassed the all-time record set by Ben Jones for six races won from 1938 to 1952. As The Times reported, other trainers previously accused Baffert of cheating.

Over the past 40 years, Baffert's horses have failed 30 drug tests, with five failures occurring in just over a year, according to The Times.

Baffert last month won an appeal before the Arkansas Racing Commission after it suspended him for 15 days after two of his horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, ESPN reported.

The Times said Baffert had denied wrongdoing and blamed positive tests on environmental issues and human error.

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