Medina Spirit Disqualified From 2021 Kentucky Derby Win, Baffert Given 90-Day Suspension - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Medina Spirit Disqualified From 2021 Kentucky Derby Win, Baffert Given 90-Day Suspension

On Feb. 21, 2022, some 296 days after the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit has been disqualified from his win by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards.

The ruling was published roughly a week after attorneys for Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert said they appeared at a stewards' hearing to discuss the horse's positive test for betamethasone after that race.

“After a formal hearing before the board of stewards, Robert A. Baffert is hereby suspended 90 days, March 8, 2022 through June 5, 2022 (inclusive) and fined seven thousand five hundred dollars,” the ruling read. “Medina Spirit is disqualified and all purse money forfeited. Pari-mutuel wagering is not affected by this ruling.”

The ruling indicated that the overage was Baffert's fourth medication violation in 365 days in any racing jurisdiction, which could have influenced the stewards' choice of penalties dealt to him.

See the complete ruling against Baffert here.

Suspensions are typically delayed, or “stayed” if a licensee is in the appeals process.

In a separate ruling against Medina Spirit owner Amr F. Zedan, stewards ordered the purse be redistributed, with the winner's share going to Mandaloun. Read that complete ruling here.

It is standard in a drug positive case for rulings to be issued separately against the trainer and owner, as a disqualification is considered a penalty against the owner of a horse and not just the trainer.

Baffert attorney Clark Brewster issued a statement after the ruling was released, in which he vows to appeal.

In part, that statement reads: “We are disappointed by the Commission's ruling, but not surprised. This ruling represents an egregious departure from both the facts and the law, but the numerous public statements by KHRC officials over the last several months have made perfectly clear that Bob Baffert's fate was decided before we ever sat down for a hearing before the three stewards, one of whom is directly employed by Churchill Downs as the racing director at Turfway Park. We will appeal, and we will prevail when the facts and rules are presented to detached, neutral decisionmakers.”

The remainder of Brewster's statement can be viewed here.

Churchill Downs, Inc., released the following statement after news of the disqualification broke:

Today Churchill Downs recognizes Mandaloun as the winner of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby and extends our congratulations to owner/breeder Juddmonte, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux. Winning the Kentucky Derby is one of the most exciting achievements in sports and we look forward to celebrating Mandaloun on a future date in a way that is fitting of this rare distinction.

The Kentucky Derby Museum released the following statement:

In light of today's announcement from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commision, the Kentucky Derby Museum wishes to extend congratulations to Kentucky Derby 147 winner Mandaloun and all of his connections including owner Juddmonte, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux. As the keepers of the Kentucky Derby's history, the Museum is obligated to highlight important moments over the course of its 148-year running and we look forward to another memorable race on Saturday, May 7, 2022.  

Medina Spirit's betamethasone overage has been a constant source of discussion and speculation since Baffert announced the week after the race that he had been notified the horse had tested positive for the corticosteroid. That test result would later be confirmed via a split sample test. In the weeks and months that followed, attorneys for Baffert fenced with the KHRC regarding their right to conduct further testing on the remainder of the biological samples leftover from the primary and split sample testing process in an effort to find the source of the substance. In December, Baffert's legal team announced that additional testing conducted by Dr. George Maylin, head of New York's Equine Drug Testing Program, suggested the betamethasone did not come from the injectable version of the drug but from a topical application of the skin ointment Otomax.

Otomax is a topical drug formulated to assist with ear infections in dogs. Baffert asserts his team was using the ointment to combat a skin infection on the horse's hindquarters in the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

In the wake of a media firestorm around the drug positive, Churchill Downs Inc., announced it would ban Baffert's runners from its races, including the Kentucky Derby, for two years and that it would not assign any points to his runners in races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The New York Racing Association also issued an indefinite suspension of stabling and entry privileges to Baffert, which he has contested in a civil suit, questioning NYRA's legal authority to issue such a suspension.

Both those actions are private property decisions and are separate from the stewards' ruling.

Medina Spirit, owned by Zedan Racing, finished third in the Preakness, then went on to win the Shared Belief Stakes and the G1 Awesome Again. He was second in the G1 Breeders' Cup Classic. In early December, Medina Spirit collapsed and died after completing a workout at Santa Anita Park. A necropsy report released on Feb. 11 indicated a conclusive cause of death could not be determined, though veterinary experts said it was possible the horse died due to a cardiac event.

This is a breaking news story and more information will be added as it becomes available.

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