Hearing on 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, Bob Baffert drug case scheduled

·2 min read

It has been almost nine months since the Kentucky Derby but the question of the winner still isn’t settled. Now, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has scheduled a Feb. 7 stewards’ hearing on Medina Spirit’s 2021 Kentucky Derby drug positive, according to published reports.

The Kentucky hearing was mentioned during testimony in New York, where embattled Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert has been the subject of a potential suspension from racing in that state. According to a story in USBETS, one of Baffert’s attorney’s, Clark Brewster, disclosed the date.

Horse Racing Nation reported that Baffert confirmed the date that racing regulators will hear evidence on whether or not the late Medina Spirit and Baffert should be stripped of their Derby win after the horse tested positive betamethasone.

The Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation on the hearing.

Medina Spirit died in December in California after a workout at Santa Anita. The horse crossed the finish line first at Churchill Downs on May 1 but tested positive for a medication that is prohibited during races.

Trainer Bob Baffert walks to the winner’s circle after Medina Spirit with John R. Velazquez up, (8) wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville on May 1, 2021. A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 7 on Medina Spirits contested drug positive.
Trainer Bob Baffert walks to the winner’s circle after Medina Spirit with John R. Velazquez up, (8) wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville on May 1, 2021. A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 7 on Medina Spirits contested drug positive.

Baffert and his attorneys have argued that the medication was in a topical ointment, Otomax, and that betamethasone was not injected into Medina Spirit. But it isn’t clear that will matter under Kentucky racing regulations.

If the stewards issue a ruling that disqualifies Medina Spirit, Baffert can appeal. The case would be heard by a hearing officer who would present findings to the full Kentucky racing commission for consideration.

In the meantime, Churchill Downs, where the 148th Kentucky Derby will be run on May 7, has barred Baffert from racing horses at any of its tracks. While horses trained by Baffert may (and have) run in Kentucky Derby prep races, they cannot earn points to qualify for the race, which is the premier race for 3-year-olds in the U.S.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is walked to be groomed after a morning exercise at Pimlico Race Course ahead of the Preakness Stakes on May 11, 2021, in Baltimore. Medina Spirit died at Santa Anita in December.
Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is walked to be groomed after a morning exercise at Pimlico Race Course ahead of the Preakness Stakes on May 11, 2021, in Baltimore. Medina Spirit died at Santa Anita in December.

‘A great champion.’ Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit dies after Santa Anita workout.

Medina Spirit’s death gives public one more reason to condemn horse racing