In 1968, This Kentucky Derby Winner Lost its Crown for a Drug Most Horses Take Now

In 1968, This Kentucky Derby Winner Lost its Crown for a Drug Most Horses Take Now


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The Kentucky Derby’s winning horse has only lost its title once before in history—and it wasn’t a case of officials immediately disqualifying a horse that finished first, as with Maximum Security in the 2019 race. In this case, a horse named Dancer’s Image held the proverbial crown for nearly three days before the Churchill Downs disqualified him for drugs in 1968.

Ironically, the specific drug in the stallion’s system is something most horses use today in the famous race.

Dancer’s Image was a gray thoroughbred who swept to a first-place finish at the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 1968, a full 1½ lengths ahead of any other horse. His owner Peter D. Fuller attended the victory party that Saturday night assured that he had just won $122,000 in prize money (that’s roughly $890,000 in 2019 dollars). While the festivities were going on, however, a chemist was performing a standard procedure: testing the urine of the winner and one other randomly selected horse from the big race.

The chemist was mostly looking for performance-enhancing drugs like heroin and cocaine. Because these both act as stimulants in horses (though heroin acts as a depressant in humans), the drugs had become a problem in horse racing during the 1930s, says Milton C. Toby, author of Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby.

“At the time, Kentucky had what’s called a zero-tolerance policy for prohibited medications,” Toby says. “Which meant that even the smallest trace of this drug and the other prohibited medications in a horse’s system was grounds for disqualification. It didn’t matter how much it was, there just had to be at least a trace.”

One of the drugs on the prohibited medications list was phenylbutazone, often referred to as “Bute,” which acts as an antihistamine and pain-reliever in horses, similarly to how aspirin works in humans. It isn’t a steroid or stimulant that affects a horse’s performance as drastically as heroin or cocaine, and many horses used it during training for the 1968 Kentucky Derby. Still, they weren’t supposed to have any of it in their systems by the time they raced in Louisville, and the chemist found that Dancer’s Image did.

It later came out that a veterinarian had given Dancer’s Image some phenylbutazone about a week before the race. Most horses would have gotten the drug out of their system by then, but it seems Dancer’s Image’s body didn’t process it as quickly. Because of the zero-tolerance policy, racetrack chemists only tested for the presence of certain drugs, not the amount that was in a horse’s body. So it didn’t matter whether Dancer’s Image had a lot of phenylbutazone in his system or just trace amounts from a previous dose—he was going to be disqualified.

Officials at Churchill Downs didn’t discover the drug test results until Monday when they received the chemist’s report. They spent the day tracking down the horse’s trainer, Lou Cavalaris, to tell him that Dancer’s Image had tested positive for phenylbutazone. This meant the horse would lose its first place title and be moved to last place. The next day, Churchill Downs made the news public. The new winner was Forward Pass, who’d come in second behind Dancer’s Image.

Fuller sued over this decision, and the court cases dragged on for nearly five years while the first-place prize money sat in an escrow account. “He had a lot of money, and he was the first person to actually make a serious claim that the tests were inappropriate and that the racing chemist was incompetent,” Toby says.

A state judge actually ruled in Fuller’s favor, but the victory was short-lived because the Kentucky State Racing Commission appealed and won. Fuller gave up the legal battle in 1973, and Churchill Downs was finally able to award the prize money—plus the interest it gained in escrow—to Calumet Farm, which owned Forward Pass.

“It’s one of the most important administrative law decisions in racing, because it really established the authority of a racing commission,” Toby says.

Then the Kentucky State Racing Commission did something surprising. Less that a year after winning the lawsuit about its ability to disqualify a horse for taking phenylbutazone, the commission approved that same drug for use during the Kentucky Derby. Toby isn’t sure why the commission made this decision, but it may have had something to do with the debate around Fuller’s lawsuit, and whether phenylbutazone really needed to be on the list of prohibited medications along with harder drugs.

“There’s a question about whether it is performance enhancing,” Toby says. “If a horse is sore, it gets a dose of Bute a few hours before the race. Then he’s not going to be feeling bad and he probably will run better. So in that context it is performance enhancing.” At the same time, many feel “it isn’t fair to equate Bute with some of the real performance-enhancing illegal drugs. Using Bute isn’t an attempt to dope the horse at all.”

Because the disqualification of Dancer’s Image appeared so technical—not to mention the fact that phenylbutazone became acceptable at Derby races just six years later—Fuller suspected there was something else going on. After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination a month before the 1968 Kentucky Derby, Fuller had donated the prize money from a previous race to Coretta Scott King, King’s widow. After Dancer’s Image was disqualified, Fuller wondered if someone unhappy with his support of the Civil Rights Movement had sabotaged his victory.

Fuller, a white man from New England, had been viciously criticized before the race for his full-throated support of civil rights. Fuller had known King when he was alive, and had protested against housing discrimination in Louisville during the 1967 Kentucky Derby. In the weeks before the ‘68 Derby, people sent him angry letters and death threats, and someone set one of his stables in New Hampshire on fire. In addition, there were reports of white people openly referring to Dancer’s Image by a racist slur.

Fuller asked Churchill Downs if he could have extra security for Dancer’s Image in light of this harrassment, but the racetrack denied his request. So could someone have slipped the horse some extra phenylbutazone before the race? Possibly. Yet it’s just as likely that the horse still had some in his system from the week before. In any case, the drug is no longer against the rules, and most Kentucky Derby horses—in fact, most American racehorses in general—likely have it in their system when they line up at the starting gate.


Peter Fuller was the son of car dealer and former Massachusetts governor Alvan Fuller and Viola Davenport Fuller. He was born on March 22, 1923 in Boston with an intestinal disease that stunted his growth and kept him out of school until he was 10.

Fuller spent the next 15 years compensating. He told the New York Times he spent every waking hour making himself bigger, tougher and stronger.

Fuller graduated from Harvard, where he wrestled and boxed, and served in the Marines during World War II. He managed the boxing career of Tom McNeeley and turned down an offer to manage Rocky Marciano. His father’s car business made him rich, and he bought his first thoroughbred in 1951. He kept his horses at Runnymede Farm in North Hampton, N.H., where he lived.

Fuller bought Noor’s Image in 1958 and bred her to Native Dancer, a celebrated stallion. He named the horse after his father but then changed his name to Dancer’s Image when he decided to sell him. His wife Joan begged him to keep the beautiful horse and he bought him back at auction.


Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit Returns A Positive Drug Test

It was just over a week ago that Medina Spirit took home the victory at the Kentucky Derby, but now there are question marks about the legitimacy of the victory.

Eric Crawford, Sports journalist for WDRB, reports that the horse has returned a positive drug test.

“It is a complete injustice. I’m going to fight it tooth and nail. … Why is it happening to me?” trainer Bob Baffert said early Sunday.

“I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something I didn’t do.”

The 68-year-old trainer said Sunday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for 21 picograms of the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone, above Kentucky racing’s threshold of ten picograms per milliliter.

“It’s such an injustice to the horse. I don’t feel embarrassed, I feel like I was robbed,” Baffert said.

Churchill Downs has suspended Baffert from having entries for races until they wrap up a complete investigation, and they put out a statement Sunday regarding how the race will be decided, should they find that Medina Spirit did indeed break the rules.

“If the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared winner,” it said in a statement.


Kentucky Derby Winner Fails Drug Test, Renewing Scrutiny For Trainer Bob Baffert

Medina Spirit, ridden by jockey John Velazquez, leads the field during the Kentucky Derby in Louisville on May 1. On Sunday, trainer Bob Baffert revealed the Derby winner had failed a drug test.

Medina Spirit, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, has failed a drug test. It is the latest of a long line of drug test failures by trainer Bob Baffert's horses.

Baffert, who had celebrated a record seventh Derby victory, disclosed the positive test at a press conference Sunday at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Ky. He denied any wrongdoing and indicated that the horse had never knowingly been treated with betamethasone, the steroid for which it tested positive.

"I got the biggest gut-punch in racing, for something I didn't do," Baffert said.

If Medina Spirit fails a second test on a second sample, also collected at the time of the race, the horse will be disqualified from the Derby and its $1.86 million in winnings forfeited. Baffert will have a chance to appeal the case, which could take months to adjudicate.

Following the news, Churchill Downs — the site of the Kentucky Derby — has banned Baffert from entering horses in any event at the racetrack.

"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," the Churchill Downs company said in a statement. "We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions' investigation before taking further steps."

In 2018, Justify — another horse trained by Baffert — became just the second Triple Crown winner in four decades. The most prestigious achievement in horseracing, the Triple Crown is awarded to horses that win three of the sport's most prominent races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

According to reporting by the New York Times though, Justify had failed a drug test weeks before its first Triple Crown race — which, had it been disclosed, would have disqualified it from participating in the race.

The horse's breeding rights were reportedly sold for $60 million.

Last month, Baffert won an appeal with the Arkansas Racing Commission which issued a 15-day suspension over two positive drug tests involving his horses in May 2020. He said the horses were inadvertently exposed to the painkiller lidocaine.

Another Baffert-trained horse, Gamine, tested positive for betamethasone in October.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, he will be just the second horse in Kentucky Derby history to be dethroned because of a drug infraction. In 1968, Dancer's Image was disqualified over use of phenylbutazone, a pain reliever that is now permitted for use during races.

For now, Medina Spirit is still set to race in the Preakness on Saturday as it pursues a record third Triple Crown win for Baffert.

At Sunday's press conference announcing the positive drug test, Baffert said he was worried about the state of horseracing.

"There's problems in racing," he said, "but it's not Bob Baffert."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Medina Spirit could lose Ky. Derby win track bans Baffert

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a failed postrace drug test, one that led Churchill Downs to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.

Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert’s barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” Churchill Downs officials said in a statement shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned morning news conference outside his barn to announce and respond to the allegations.

The track said failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport’s integrity and the Derby’s reputation.

“Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” the statement read. “Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

Medina Spirit is expected to run in the Preakness on Saturday, barring some abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at Pimlico or Maryland’s racing commission that would prevent him from entering the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Officials from 1/ST Racing, a branding arm of the Stronach Group that owns and operates Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club said Sunday they would consult with state authorities and that “any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.” Officials rescheduled the post position draw for Tuesday afternoon, moving it back a day in light of the uncertainty.

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn’t do,” Baffert said of the failed drug test. “And it’s disturbing. It’s an injustice to the horse. . I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now, but there’s something not right. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to do our own investigation. We’re going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we’ve always been.

“He’s a great horse. He doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race,” Baffert added.

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer’s Image in 1968.

Medina Spirit is Baffert’s fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year. Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson, Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone — slightly more than double what the trainer said was the allowable amount — in a postrace sample.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of that test and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” Baffert said. “I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert.”

Mandaloun, which lost the Derby by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for 2021 would end right there. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner’s share of the Derby purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won’t matter — those who cashed in on Medina Spirit still win, those who didn’t still lose and those who backed Mandaloun missed out on a winning ticket that would have returned more than $50 on a $2 wager.

Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in that race. Except for 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission after he had been suspended by Oaklawn Park stewards for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at the track on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

But as Baffert insisted that horse racing can do better preventing doping, he also acknowledged the spotlight.

“I know I’m the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don’t have a problem with that,” Baffert said. “The last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest 2 minutes in sports.”

Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said in a statement that racing authorities “should throw the book” at those found guilty of violations.

The failed drug test is just another in a long series of events shadowing the sport — and the Derby, its best known and most prestigious race — in recent years.

Maximum Security crossed the line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by Churchill Downs stewards for interference in what was an unprecedented move. Country House, which crossed the line second in that race, is now considered the winner.

In March 2020, Jason Servis — who was Maximum Security’s trainer — was part of a sweeping indictment that involved trainers, veterinarians and pharmacists in a horse doping ring. Baffert faced the doping allegations in Arkansas and Kentucky last year with Gamine, and now this.

“I’m worried about our sport,” Baffert said. “Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.”

AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.


Kentucky Derby winner could be disqualified track bans Hall of Fame trainer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a positive postrace drug test, one that prompted Churchill Downs to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert immediately on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.

Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert’s barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” Churchill Downs officials said in a statement shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned morning news conference outside his barn to respond to the latest allegation.

The track said that failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport’s integrity and the Derby’s reputation.

“Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” the statement read. “Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

Medina Spirit is expected to run in the Preakness on Saturday, barring some abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at Pimlico or Maryland’s racing commission that would prevent him from entering the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn’t do,” Baffert said of the failed test. “And it’s disturbing. It’s an injustice to the horse. … I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now, but there’s something not right. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to do our own investigation. We’re going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we’ve always been.

“He’s a great horse. He doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race,” Baffert added.

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer’s Image in 1968.

Medina Spirit is Baffert’s fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year. Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson, Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone — slightly more than double what the trainer said was the allowable amount — in a postrace sample.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of that test and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” Baffert said. “I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert.”

Mandaloun, which lost the Derby by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for 2021 would end right there. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.

Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in that race. Except for 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness, which holds its post position draw Monday.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission after he had been suspended by Oaklawn Park stewards for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at the track on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

But as Baffert insisted that horse racing can do better preventing doping, he also acknowledged the spotlight.

“I know I’m the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don’t have a problem with that,” Baffert said. “The last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest 2 minutes in sports.”

The failed drug test is just another in a long series of events shadowing the sport — and the Derby, its best known and most prestigious race — in recent years.

Maximum Security crossed the line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by Churchill Downs stewards for interference in what was an unprecedented move. Country House, which crossed the line second in that race, is now considered the winner.

In March 2020, Jason Servis — who was Maximum Security’s trainer — was part of a sweeping indictment that involved trainers, veterinarians and pharmacists in a horse doping ring. Baffert faced the doping allegations in Arkansas and Kentucky last year, and now, this.

“I’m worried about our sport,” Baffert said. “Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.”

AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.


Another horse racing scandal? Bob Baffert suspended, Derby winner may be disqualified

John Velazquez riding Medina Spirit crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. &ndash Medina Spirit&rsquos victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a failed postrace drug test, one that led Churchill Downs to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.

Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert&rsquos barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.

Medina Spirit&rsquos win over Mandaloun in the Derby stands &ndash for now.

&ldquoTo be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit&rsquos results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,&rdquo Churchill Downs officials said in a statement shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned morning news conference outside his barn to announce and respond to the allegations.

The track said failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport&rsquos integrity and the Derby&rsquos reputation.

&ldquoChurchill Downs will not tolerate it,&rdquo the statement read. &ldquoGiven the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.&rdquo

Medina Spirit expected to run in Preakness: Medina Spirit is expected to run in the Preakness on Saturday, barring some abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at Pimlico or Maryland&rsquos racing commission that would prevent him from entering the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Officials from 1/ST Racing, a branding arm of the Stronach Group that owns and operates Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club said Sunday they would consult with state authorities and that &ldquoany decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.&rdquo Officials rescheduled the post position draw for Tuesday afternoon, moving it back a day in light of the uncertainty.

&ldquoI got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn&rsquot do,&rdquo Baffert said of the failed drug test. &ldquoAnd it&rsquos disturbing. It&rsquos an injustice to the horse. &hellip I don&rsquot know what&rsquos going on in racing right now, but there&rsquos something not right. I don&rsquot feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We&rsquore going to do our own investigation. We&rsquore going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we&rsquove always been.

Jockey John Velazquez, left, watches as trainer Bob Baffert holds up the winner's trophy after they victory with Medina Spirit in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (Photo: Jeff Roberson, AP)

&ldquoHe&rsquos a great horse. He doesn&rsquot deserve this. He ran a gallant race,&rdquo Baffert added.

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer&rsquos Image in 1968.

Baffert has a history: Medina Spirit is Baffert&rsquos fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year. Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson, Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone &ndash slightly more than double what the trainer said was the allowable amount &ndash in a postrace sample.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of that test and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.

&ldquoI&rsquom not a conspiracy theorist,&rdquo Baffert said. &ldquoI know everybody is not out to get me, but there&rsquos definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there&rsquos problems in racing, but it&rsquos not Bob Baffert.&rdquo

Mandaloun, which lost the Derby by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for 2021 would end right there. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.

Nothing will change for bettors: If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner&rsquos share of the Derby purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won&rsquot matter &ndash those who cashed in on Medina Spirit still win, those who didn&rsquot still lose and those who backed Mandaloun missed out on a winning ticket that would have returned more than $50 on a $2 wager.

Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in that race. Except for 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission after he had been suspended by Oaklawn Park stewards for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at the track on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

But as Baffert insisted that horse racing can do better preventing doping, he also acknowledged the spotlight.

&ldquoI know I&rsquom the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don&rsquot have a problem with that,&rdquo Baffert said. &ldquoThe last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest 2 minutes in sports.&rdquo

Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said in a statement that racing authorities &ldquoshould throw the book&rdquo at those found guilty of violations.

Another issue for the sport: The failed drug test is just another in a long series of events shadowing the sport &ndash and the Derby, its best known and most prestigious race &ndash in recent years.

Maximum Security crossed the line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by Churchill Downs stewards for interference in what was an unprecedented move. Country House, which crossed the line second in that race, is now considered the winner.

In March 2020, Jason Servis &ndash who was Maximum Security&rsquos trainer &ndash was part of a sweeping indictment that involved trainers, veterinarians and pharmacists in a horse doping ring. Baffert faced the doping allegations in Arkansas and Kentucky last year with Gamine, and now this.

&ldquoI&rsquom worried about our sport,&rdquo Baffert said. &ldquoOur sport, we&rsquove taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we&rsquore going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn&rsquot do it.&rdquo


Medina Spirit could lose Kentucky Derby win track bans Bob Baffert

Louisville, Ky. &mdash Medina Spirit&rsquos victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a failed postrace drug test, one that led Churchill Downs to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.

Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert&rsquos barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.

Medina Spirit&rsquos win over Mandaloun in the Derby stands &mdash for now.

&ldquoTo be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit&rsquos results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,&rdquo Churchill Downs officials said in a statement shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned morning news conference outside his barn to announce and respond to the allegations.

The track said failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport&rsquos integrity and the Derby&rsquos reputation.

&ldquoChurchill Downs will not tolerate it,&rdquo the statement read. &ldquoGiven the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.&rdquo

Medina Spirit is expected to run in the Preakness on Saturday, barring some abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at Pimlico or Maryland&rsquos racing commission that would prevent him from entering the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Officials from 1/ST Racing, a branding arm of the Stronach Group that owns and operates Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club said Sunday they would consult with state authorities and that &ldquoany decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.&rdquo Officials rescheduled the post position draw for Tuesday afternoon, moving it back a day in light of the uncertainty.

&ldquoI got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn&rsquot do,&rdquo Baffert said of the failed drug test. &ldquoAnd it&rsquos disturbing. It&rsquos an injustice to the horse. . I don&rsquot know what&rsquos going on in racing right now, but there&rsquos something not right. I don&rsquot feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We&rsquore going to do our own investigation. We&rsquore going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we&rsquove always been.

&ldquoHe&rsquos a great horse. He doesn&rsquot deserve this. He ran a gallant race,&rdquo Baffert added.

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer&rsquos Image in 1968.

Medina Spirit is Baffert&rsquos fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year. Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson, Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone &mdash slightly more than double what the trainer said was the allowable amount &mdash in a postrace sample.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of that test and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.

&ldquoI&rsquom not a conspiracy theorist,&rdquo Baffert said. &ldquoI know everybody is not out to get me, but there&rsquos definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there&rsquos problems in racing, but it&rsquos not Bob Baffert.&rdquo

Mandaloun, which lost the Derby by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for 2021 would end right there. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner&rsquos share of the Derby purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won&rsquot matter &mdash those who cashed in on Medina Spirit still win, those who didn&rsquot still lose and those who backed Mandaloun missed out on a winning ticket that would have returned more than $50 on a $2 wager.

Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in that race. Except for 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission after he had been suspended by Oaklawn Park stewards for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at the track on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

But as Baffert insisted that horse racing can do better preventing doping, he also acknowledged the spotlight.

&ldquoI know I&rsquom the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don&rsquot have a problem with that,&rdquo Baffert said. &ldquoThe last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest 2 minutes in sports.&rdquo

Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said in a statement that racing authorities &ldquoshould throw the book&rdquo at those found guilty of violations.

The failed drug test is just another in a long series of events shadowing the sport &mdash and the Derby, its best known and most prestigious race &mdash in recent years.

Maximum Security crossed the line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by Churchill Downs stewards for interference in what was an unprecedented move. Country House, which crossed the line second in that race, is now considered the winner.

In March 2020, Jason Servis &mdash who was Maximum Security&rsquos trainer &mdash was part of a sweeping indictment that involved trainers, veterinarians and pharmacists in a horse doping ring. Baffert faced the doping allegations in Arkansas and Kentucky last year with Gamine, and now this.

&ldquoI&rsquom worried about our sport,&rdquo Baffert said. &ldquoOur sport, we&rsquove taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we&rsquore going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn&rsquot do it.&rdquo


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Medina Spirit, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, has failed a drug test. It is the latest of a long line of drug test failures by trainer Bob Baffert’s horses.

Baffert, who had celebrated a record seventh Derby victory, disclosed the positive test at a press conference Sunday at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Ky. He denied any wrongdoing and indicated that the horse had never knowingly been treated with betamethasone, the steroid for which it tested positive.

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing, for something I didn’t do,” Baffert said.

If Medina Spirit fails a second test on a second sample, also collected at the time of the race, the horse will be disqualified from the Derby and its $1.86 million in winnings forfeited. Baffert will have a chance to appeal the case, which could take months to adjudicate.

Following the news, Churchill Downs — the site of the Kentucky Derby — has banned Baffert from entering horses in any event at the racetrack.

“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,” the Churchill Downs company said in a statement. “We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions’ investigation before taking further steps.”

In 2018, Justify — another horse trained by Baffert — became just the second Triple Crown winner in four decades. The most prestigious achievement in horseracing, the Triple Crown is awarded to horses that win three of the sport’s most prominent races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

According to reporting by the New York Times though, Justify had failed a drug test weeks before its first Triple Crown race — which, had it been disclosed, would have disqualified it from participating in the race.

The horse’s breeding rights were reportedly sold for $60 million.

Last month, Baffert won an appeal with the Arkansas Racing Commission which issued a 15-day suspension over two positive drug tests involving his horses in May 2020. He said the horses were inadvertently exposed to the painkiller lidocaine.

Another Baffert-trained horse, Gamine, tested positive for betamethasone in October.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, he will be just the second horse in Kentucky Derby history to be dethroned because of a drug infraction. In 1968, Dancer’s Image was disqualified over use of phenylbutazone, a pain reliever that is now permitted for use during races.

For now, Medina Spirit is still set to race in the Preakness on Saturday as it pursues a record third Triple Crown win for Baffert.

At Sunday’s press conference announcing the positive drug test, Baffert said he was worried about the state of horseracing.

“There’s problems in racing,” he said, “but it’s not Bob Baffert.”


Churchill Downs suspends trainer after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit fails post-race drug test

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert speaks as Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a positive postrace drug test.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a failed postrace drug test, one that led Churchill Downs to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.

Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert’s barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.

Medina Spirit’s win over Mandaloun in the Derby stands — for now.

"To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner," Churchill Downs officials said in a statement shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned morning news conference outside his barn to announce and respond to the allegations.

The track said failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport’s integrity and the Derby’s reputation.

"Churchill Downs will not tolerate it," the statement read. "Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack."

Medina Spirit is expected to run in the Preakness on Saturday, barring some abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at Pimlico or Maryland’s racing commission that would prevent him from entering the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Officials from 1/ST Racing, which operates Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club said Sunday they would consult with state authorities and that "any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts." Officials rescheduled the post position draw for Tuesday afternoon, moving it back a day in light of the uncertainty.

"I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn’t do," Baffert said of the failed drug test. "And it’s disturbing. It’s an injustice to the horse. . I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now, but there’s something not right. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to do our own investigation. We’re going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we’ve always been.

"He’s a great horse. He doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race," Baffert added.

Medina Spirit, No. 8, ridden by jockey John Velazquez, (R) crosses the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer’s Image in 1968.

Medina Spirit is Baffert’s fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year. Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson, Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone — slightly more than double what the trainer said was the allowable amount — in a postrace sample.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of that test and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.

"I’m not a conspiracy theorist," Baffert said. "I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert."

Mandaloun, which lost the Derby by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for 2021 would end right there. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner’s share of the Derby purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won’t matter — those who cashed in on Medina Spirit still win, those who didn’t still lose and those who backed Mandaloun missed out on a winning ticket that would have returned more than $50 on a $2 wager.

Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in that race. Except for 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness, which holds its post position draw Monday.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission after he had been suspended by Oaklawn Park stewards for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at the track on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

But as Baffert insisted that horse racing can do better preventing doping, he also acknowledged the spotlight.

"I know I’m the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don’t have a problem with that," Baffert said. "The last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest 2 minutes in sports."

Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said in a statement that racing authorities "should throw the book" at those found guilty of violations.

The failed drug test is just another in a long series of events shadowing the sport — and the Derby, its best known and most prestigious race — in recent years.

Maximum Security crossed the line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by Churchill Downs stewards for interference in what was an unprecedented move. Country House, which crossed the line second in that race, is now considered the winner.

In March 2020, Jason Servis — who was Maximum Security’s trainer — was part of a sweeping indictment that involved trainers, veterinarians and pharmacists in a horse doping ring. Baffert faced the doping allegations in Arkansas and Kentucky last year with Gamine, and now this.

"I’m worried about our sport," Baffert said. "Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it."

AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds and Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.


Medina Spirit could lose Kentucky Derby win after positive drug test, trainer banned from Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a failed postrace drug test, one that led Churchill Downs to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.

Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert’s barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” Churchill Downs officials said in a statement shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned morning news conference outside his barn to announce and respond to the allegations.

The track said failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport’s integrity and the Derby’s reputation.

“Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” the statement read. “Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

Medina Spirit is expected to run in the Preakness on Saturday, barring some abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at Pimlico or Maryland’s racing commission that would prevent him from entering the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Officials from 1/ST Racing, which operates Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club said Sunday they would consult with state authorities and that “any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.”

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn’t do,” Baffert said of the failed drug test. “And it’s disturbing. It’s an injustice to the horse. … I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now, but there’s something not right. I don’t feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to do our own investigation. We’re going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we’ve always been.

“He’s a great horse. He doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race,” Baffert added.

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer’s Image in 1968.

Medina Spirit is Baffert’s fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just over a year. Flanked by his attorney Craig Robertson, Baffert said his barn was told that Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone — slightly more than double what the trainer said was the allowable amount — in a postrace sample.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of that test and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist,” Baffert said. “I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert.”

Mandaloun, which lost the Derby by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for 2021 would end right there. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the Derby should stand or will change.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner’s share of the Derby purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won’t matter — those who cashed in on Medina Spirit still win, those who didn’t still lose and those who backed Mandaloun missed out on a winning ticket that would have returned more than $50 on a $2 wager.

Baffert was planning to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in that race. Except for 2020 when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness, which holds its post position draw Monday.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission after he had been suspended by Oaklawn Park stewards for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at the track on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

But as Baffert insisted that horse racing can do better preventing doping, he also acknowledged the spotlight.

“I know I’m the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don’t have a problem with that,” Baffert said. “The last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest 2 minutes in sports.”

Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said in a statement that racing authorities “should throw the book” at those found guilty of violations.

The failed drug test is just another in a long series of events shadowing the sport — and the Derby, its best known and most prestigious race — in recent years.

Maximum Security crossed the line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by Churchill Downs stewards for interference in what was an unprecedented move. Country House, which crossed the line second in that race, is now considered the winner.

In March 2020, Jason Servis — who was Maximum Security’s trainer — was part of a sweeping indictment that involved trainers, veterinarians and pharmacists in a horse doping ring. Baffert faced the doping allegations in Arkansas and Kentucky last year with Gamine, and now this.

“I’m worried about our sport,” Baffert said. “Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.”

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Watch the video: Kentucky Derby 1968