Commentary: 'Neither Ignorance Nor Carelessness Make For Much Of An Excuse' - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Commentary: ‘Neither Ignorance Nor Carelessness Make For Much Of An Excuse’

Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit, the morning after the 2021 Kentucky Derby

“First, Bob Baffert said it didn't happen. Now, he says it doesn't matter. He is wrong on both counts.”

So writes Tim Sullivan of the Louisville, Ky.-based Courier-Journal, who was one of a handful of reporters attending a Sunday morning press conference at which Baffert announced the finding of 21 picograms of betamethasone in the post-race sample of his Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit.

Baffert's claim that morning was the the horse had never been treated with betamethasone, and he and his team had no idea how the medication could have been found in Medina Spirit's system.

Two days later, the story has changed. On Tuesday morning, Baffert released a statement (through his attorney Craig Robinson) indicating that Medina Spirit has been treated with a topical medication containing betamethasone for over 3 1/2 weeks. Otomax, the ointment indicated in that statement, was prescribed to help with a skin condition called dermatitis.

“Horse racing must address its regulatory problem when it comes to substances which can innocuously find their way into a horse's system at the picogram (which is a trillionth of a gram) level,” Baffert's statement said. “Medina Spirit earned his Kentucky Derby win and my pharmacologists have told me that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have no effect on the outcome of the race.”

As Sullivan wrote in his commentary Tuesday afternoon, the positive test DID happen, and it DOES matter, despite the claims of the Hall of Fame trainer and his attorney.

Neither the amount of the medication nor the intent with which it was used matter when it comes to disqualification of the horse: if a split sample test confirms the presence of any amount of betamethasone, Kentucky regulations call for both disqualification and loss of purse money.

Sullivan summarized: “Should Medina Spirit's split sample confirm the findings of the first test — as nearly all split samples do — Baffert's best strategy might be to claim mitigating circumstances. Neither ignorance nor carelessness make for much of an excuse, but they sure beat denying what turns out to be true.”

Read more at the Courier-Journal.

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