- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit may be one step closer to clearing its name as Baffert's lawyer Craig Robertson claims the Kentucky Derby winning horse's drug test for betamethasone has come back with some good news for the Baffert camp.
Robertson said in a statement on Friday that testing of the split urine sample of Medina Spirit has been completed and the results have definitively confirmed that the betamethasone present in Medina Spirit’s system following the Derby did come from the topical ointment Otomax and not an injection.
"In other words, it has now been scientifically proven that what Bob Baffert said from the beginning was true – Medina Spirit was never injected with betamethasone and the findings following the Kentucky Derby were solely the result of the horse being treated for a skin condition by way of a topical ointment – all at the direction of Medina Spirit's veterinarian," Robertson's statement said.
The horse's urine was tested "to determine if the alleged topical administration of Otomax could have resulted in the finding of betamethasone" in Medina Spirit following the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Baffert's camp, including owner Amr Zedan and Zedan Racing Stable, filed an injunction against the KHRC in June in an effort to show the betamethasone detected in the horse’s blood samples was from a topical ointment and nan injection.
“Determining whether or not the betamethasone in Medina Spirit was acetate (injected) or valerate is of critical importance in this case,” they argued in a court filing in July, “as one is a potential rules violation and the other is not.”
The issue still at large, however, is if Kentucky stewards will determine that the test proving the drug was administered via ointment and not injection could cast enough doubt to get Medina Spirit's positive drug test thrown out.
This can be tricky for Robertson, as "positive finding" means the commission laboratory has conducted testing and determined that a drug, medication, or substance, the use of which is restricted or prohibited by this administrative regulation, 810 KAR 8:020, 810 KAR 8:025, or 810 KAR 8:040, was present in the sample.
But Baffert's camp has found loopholes in similar cases before. When Baffert was suspended by the Arkansas Racing Commission following a pair of lidocaine positives in May 2020, Robertson was able to create enough doubt about laboratory competence and the security of split samples to get Baffert's suspension rescinded and purses restored.
According to Dr. Mary Scollay, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, the race day presence of a Class C drug such as Betamethasone means a “non-negotiable” disqualification, reporter Tim Sullivan wrote in June.
“How it got into the horse does not negate that it was in the horse,” Scollay said.
Baffert is still facing a two-year suspension from Churchill Downs, but a loss to the KHRC would further damage Baffert's racing future. Baffert’s suspension at Churchill runs through the 2023 Spring Meet and prevents him “or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Bob Baffert racing Stables” from entering horses at any Churchill Downs racetracks.
"Since May, Mr. Baffert has been the subject of an unfair rush to judgment," Robertson said in his statement. "We asked all along that everyone wait until the facts and science came to light. Now that it has been scientifically proven that Mr. Baffert was truthful, did not break any rules of racing, and Medina Spirit’s victory was due solely to the heart and ability of the horse and nothing else, it is time for all members of racing to come together for the good of the sport.
"Mr. Baffert has been a tremendous ambassador for the sport throughout his 46 year Hall of Fame career and he has every intention of continuing to do so."
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby test returns, Bob Baffert's lawyer says