EXPLAINER: Derby winner’s failed test latest in horse doping

Medina Spirit, the Kentucky Derby winner, failed a postrace drug test, raising new suspicions about horse doping in the sport when his blood sample was discovered to be in breach of the state’s medication regulations for racehorses.

Medina Spirit tested positive for the drug betamethasone, according to trainer Bob Baffert. According to Baffert, the test revealed 21 picograms of betamethasone. A picogram is a trillionth of a gram, however the test is for picograms per milliliter, and a horse’s blood may be 50,000 milliliters.

The usage of the steroid is restricted in Kentucky to 14 days or more before a race. On race day, any amount of detection constitutes a violation.

If the infraction is confirmed in a second round of testing, Medina Spirit will be disqualified and Mandaloun will be declared the Kentucky Derby winner.

It’s the latest high-profile drug breach in horse racing, which was rocked last year when two trainers and 25 people were indicted in a wide-ranging doping scandal. After years of debate, changes are on the way to standardize medicine in horse racing, but a measure enacted by the US Congress won’t take effect until next year.

Here’s how Medina Spirit got here and what’s coming up next:


A. It’s a steroid that’s used to relieve inflammation in the joints of horses. It’s not a performance-enhancing substance. However, horses with betamethasone in their systems may have an edge over those that do not experience the therapeutic benefits while racing.

Kentucky restricts the usage of the steroid to 14 days or more before to a race, allowing the horse’s system to clear before entering the starting gate.

Medication for Racing Betamethasone is “a powerful, long-acting, synthetic glucocorticoid commonly utilized in horse veterinary treatment as a steroidal anti-inflammatory,” according to the & Testing Consortium. It’s a synthetic corticosteroid that may be used topically but is most often injected into the joints of horses.


A. The same chemical was discovered in Baffert’s filly Gamine, which resulted in her being disqualified from the Kentucky Oaks in 2020. That decision was not appealed by Baffert. Contamination was claimed as a cause for this and earlier infractions by the trainer, who has denied supplying the steroid to Medina Spirit.


A. Betamethasone is a Class C medication that may be used therapeutically in Kentucky. However, Medina Spirit’s postrace test results were in violation of Kentucky state law, which prohibits the usage of the steroid 14 days or more before to a race.

Without extenuating circumstances, a trainer’s first infraction carries a punishment of at least $1,000. After Gamine, this would be Baffert’s second betamethasone infraction in less than a year.


A. Not with performance-enhancing substances, despite the fact that this is Baffert’s sixth drug infraction in the last 13 months. Gamine was discovered to have 185 picograms of lidocaine and Baffert-trained Charlatan had 46 picograms of lidocaine while racing at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas last year, which resulted in a ban that was challenged and rejected.

Merneith, another Baffert horse, tested positive for the cough suppressant dextrorphan after racing at Del Mar in California last summer.

Justify was declared the winner of the 2018 Santa Anita Derby by the California Horse Racing Board after postrace testing revealed the horse had scopolamine, which is sometimes used to treat mild colic and spasms and can also show up as a result of environmental contamination when horses eat hay containing jimsonweed, which grows wild in California.


A. Because mandatory postrace testing differs by state, there is no centralized database that keeps track of how many horses have tested positive for betamethasone, other medications, or performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals.

A safety and integrity measure was just passed into law, and it will take effect in July 2022. Its purpose is to provide uniform, transparent, and enforced doping standards throughout all racing jurisdictions.


A. Baffert and the Medina Spirit owners sought a split sample from the colt for a second round of testing. A split sample is a method of re-testing to ensure that the steroid is present. The findings of the sample might take more than a week to evaluate, clearing the record or resulting in a DQ.

Medina Spirit and Baffert’s Concert Tour were scheduled to fly to Baltimore for the Preakness on Monday. If the horses compete in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, Baffert indicated he wouldn’t be travelling to Baltimore, leaving assistant Jimmy Barnes to saddle them.

Officials with the Preakness said they will make a decision on Medina Spirit’s entry after analyzing the facts, and the post position draw has been put out to Tuesday afternoon.


A. If Medina Spirit is disqualified from the Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun’s owners and trainer will get the $1.86 million winner’s share of the prize money. Dancer’s Image, who won the Derby in 1968, is the only prior winner to be disqualified after the race due to a positive postrace drug test for the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine phenylbutazone.


A. Unlike when Maximum Security, the 2019 Kentucky Derby winner, was disqualified for obstructing other horses and Country House was raised to first, bettors will not be harmed in any way if Medina Spirit’s victory is nullified.

Because the race was declared legitimate, no money would be exchanged between those who predicted Medina Spirit or Mandaloun to win the Derby. Never mind the possible payoff for the superfecta, which would have included 27-1 Mandaloun, 6-1 Hot Rod Charlie, 3-1 favorite Essential Quality, and 42-1 long shot O Besos.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test, once again raising questions about horse doping in the sport when the colt’s …

People also ask

Did the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner fail a drug test?

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit stripped of 2021 title after failed drug test. John Velazquez rides Medina Spirit across the finish line at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in May 2021. Medina Spirit failed a post race drug test and on Monday, was stripped of his 2021 title.

Did the horse that won the Kentucky Derby test positive for steroids?

Medina Spirit was stripped of the victory in last year’s Kentucky Derby and Mandaloun was declared the winner after a ruling by state racing stewards on Monday. The since-deceased Medina Spirit tested positive after the race last May for a steroid, betamethasone, that is legal in Kentucky but banned on race day.

Did the Derby winner fail a drug test?

Kentucky Derby winning horse dies after workout routine Medina Spirit, who failed a drug test after he won the Kentucky Derby this year, died during a workout Monday morning in California. The horse collapsed in training at Santa Anita and suffered an apparent heart attack, his trainer, Bob Baffert, said.

Was the Derby winner doped?

Topline. Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit died Monday, months after the horse tested positive for an illegal substance following the Derby and sparked a wide-reaching investigation into superstar trainer Bob Baffert and the horse-racing industry as a whole.

Why did the Kentucky Derby winner get disqualified?

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced Monday that Medina Spirit, who finished first in the Kentucky Derby on May 1 before testing positive for an anti-inflammatory that is banned on race day, was formally disqualified and stripped of his victory.

Which horse tested positive?

Medina Spirit

Bob Baffert has been suspended for two years by Churchill Downs after a second post-race sample confirmed the presence of betamethasone, a pain-reducing steroid injected into joints, in the blood of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

What happened Medina Spirit?

Medina Spirit – who tested positive for betamethasone, a banned race-day substance, the day of his Kentucky Derby win – died after a Dec. 6 workout in California’s Santa Anita Park. In a statement shortly after his death, trainer Bob Baffert said the horse suffered a heart attack.

How much betamethasone was in Medina Spirit?

“In response to the inquiries, this will acknowledge that the Medina Spirit split sample confirmed the finding of betamethasone at 25 picograms,” Robertson said.

Are the horses in the Kentucky Derby abused?

Although it may ruin your party plans this weekend, it’s important to be aware of the Kentucky Derby’s dark history of horse abuse. Some pretty devastating things have been found in racing stables — especially for horses that make it to the annual races.

Are the Kentucky Derby horses treated well?

While spectators enjoy their mint juleps in over-the-top fashion at the Kentucky Derby, the horses are given drug cocktails to enhance their performance and mask their pain and injuries, and more than 1,000 of the “athletes” die every single year.

What did Bob Baffert give Medina Spirit?

Bob Baffert acknowledges using ointment on Medina Spirit that includes betamethasone. Medina Spirit’s precarious status as 2021 Kentucky Derby winner suffered another blow Tuesday when trainer Bob Baffert acknowledged the horse was treated with an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax, which includes betamethasone.

What horse is buried at the Kentucky Derby?


Barbaro was cremated shortly after he was euthanized. On January 29, 2008 it was announced that his remains would be interred in front of an entrance to Churchill Downs, and that a bronze statue of Barbaro would be placed atop his remains.

Is Secretariat buried at Churchill Downs?

The great Secretariat, who became a Triple Crown winner in 1973 is buried at Claiborne Farm in Bourbon County. You can visit with the remains of Bold Forbes, who won the 1976 Kentucky Derby, at the Kentucky Horse Park near the Hall of Champions show ring.

Has a horse survived a broken leg?

Breaks are most commonly heard of in racehorses, but any horse can break a bone in its leg. While euthanasia is often still the main option, advances in veterinary technologies and techniques mean that some horses can be saved, and may even be able to return to their work in some capacity.

How many Kentucky Derby winners have been disqualified?

It’s only the third time a winner has been disqualified in the 146-year history of the world’s most famous horse race. With the disqualification, Mandaloun becomes the winner.

Why was Baffert disqualified?

Baffert is serving a 90-day suspension handed down by Kentucky regulators in the wake of a failed postrace drug test by Medina Spirit, who crossed the finish line first in last year’s Kentucky Derby but was subsequently disqualified.

How much does the Jockey make winning the Kentucky Derby?

Rich Strike received $1,860,000 of the Kentucky Derby’s $3 million purse as the race winner. Before his victory in the first leg of the Triple Crown, Rich Strike’s career earnings totaled only $111,289.

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