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9 May, 2021 18:32

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit could be stripped of $1.8 million prize money after FAILED DRUG TEST

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit could be stripped of $1.8 million prize money after FAILED DRUG TEST

Kentucky Derby-winning horse Medina Spirit has failed a drugs test and thrown the legacy of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has been suspended, into further scandal after five of his horses failed tests in just over a year.

Baffert claimed to be "shocked" after his horse's test showed traces of betamethasone above the legal limit, but protested that he was not responsible for administering the substance.

Revealing the news to reporters, he commented: "I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something I didn't do."

"It's such an injustice to the horse. I don't feel embarrassed, I feel like I was robbed," the 68-year-old confessed.

"But I'm going to fight it tooth and nail, because I owe it to the horse. I owe it to the owner and I owe it to our industry.

"There are problems in racing, but it's not Bob Baffert. I don't believe in conspiracy theories, but why is it happening to me?" he asked.

"This shouldn't have happened. There's a problem somewhere. It didn't come from us," Baffert concluded.

Suspending him from entering his horses in their races, Churchill Downs said in a statement that "if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit's results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and [runner up] Mandaloun will be declared winner".

"Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it," the Louisville complex vowed.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Medina Spirit won the most famous race in the US last Saturday.

Baffert received praise for the victory, and is a Hall of Fame trainer who became the first to scoop the US Triple Crown of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes for 37 years when American Pharoah completed the feat in 2015 which was then repeated by Justify in 2018.

Yet Baffert's legacy came into question and controversy when a string of positive tests from his horses were produced last year, and forced him to pledge he would "do better" heading forward.

Just last month, he managed to overturn a 15-day ban and the disqualification of Gamine and Charlatan after their samples returned traces of an illicit raceday medication known as lidocaine, which was identified as being cross-contaminated by a pain-relief patch that had been worn by Baffert's assistant.

Receiving just a a $10,000 fine instead, Baffert got off with a slap on the wrists and separately said "I am very aware of the several incidents this year concerning my horses and the impact it has had on my family, horse racing, and me."

"I want to have a positive influence on the sport of horse racing. Horses have been my life and I owe everything to them and the tremendous sport in which I have been so fortunate to be involved."

Time will tell if Baffert has kept his word or not, and can hold on to the $1.8 million Kentucky Derby prize money that will otherwise be redirected to Mandaloun's owners.