Medina Spirit stripped of Kentucky Derby victory

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Medina Spirit was stripped of the victory in final 12 months’s Kentucky Derby and Mandaloun was declared the winner after a ruling by state racing stewards on Monday.


The since-deceased Medina Spirit examined optimistic after the race final Might for a steroid, betamethasone, that’s authorized in Kentucky however banned on race day. The optimistic check threw the world’s best-known horse race into turmoil and solid an unflattering highlight on coach Bob Baffert, thought-about the face of horse racing after he guided horses to the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2018.


Medina Spirit completed half a size forward of Mandaloun within the race, giving Baffert what was then his seventh Kentucky Derby title. Baffert was subsequently banned for 2 years by Churchill Downs following the optimistic check.


Monday’s choice by the Kentucky Horse Racing Fee makes Medina Spirit the second horse within the 147-year historical past of the race to be disqualified for a banned substance; the primary was Dancer’s Picture in 1968, a call that gave Ahead Move the victory. The one different disqualification was in 2019 when Most Safety was penalized due to interference, giving Nation Home the win.


Following the announcement by the racing stewards, Churchill Downs issued a press release declaring Mandaloun the Kentucky Derby winner and congratulating proprietor and breeder Juddmonte Farms, coach Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux. Cox turns into the primary Louisville native to win the Derby, and Mandaloun’s homeowners will obtain the $1.8 million winner’s purse.


“We look ahead to celebrating Mandaloun on a future date in a means that’s becoming of this uncommon distinction,” the assertion stated.


The monitor plans to interchange Medina Spirit with Mandaloun on the paddock signal honoring the Derby winner on Tuesday. Mandaloun is ready to run within the $20 million Saudi Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday. The winner receives $10 million.


The racing fee additionally suspended Baffert for 90 days and fined the Corridor of Fame coach $7,500 on Monday. The choice adopted a Feb. 14 listening to that was closed to the general public and media.


Clark Brewster, an legal professional for Baffert, stated he would attraction the ruling.


“This ruling represents an egregious departure from each the info and the legislation,” Brewster stated, “however the quite a few public statements by KHRC officers during the last a number of months have made completely clear that Bob Baffert’s destiny was determined earlier than we ever sat down for a listening to earlier than the three stewards, considered one of whom is straight employed by Churchill Downs because the racing director at Turfway Park.”


The California Horse Racing Board stated it is going to honor Baffert’s suspension at its tracks. He’s primarily based at Santa Anita, the place he has already gained a few of this season’s 3-year-old prep races for the Kentucky Derby.


The CHRB additionally stated it is going to honor any keep or preliminary injunction if granted by Kentucky racing officers or a court docket.


Medina Spirit collapsed and died on Dec. 6 of a coronary heart assault following a coaching run at Santa Anita lower than a month after ending second within the Breeders’ Cup Basic at Del Mar. A necropsy discovered no definitive explanation for the horse’s demise.


Baffert initially denied wrongdoing after a postrace drug check revealed 21 picograms of betamethasone within the horse’s system. Baffert later acknowledged treating the horse with a topical ointment containing the corticosteroid for a pores and skin irritation.


Churchill Downs subsequently suspended Baffert, citing a current spate of failed drug checks by his horses. Baffert sued the racing fee final June, searching for custody of remnant samples of Medina Spirit’s blood and urine for subsequent testing to show that the steroid didn’t come from an injection.


One other Baffert legal professional, Craig Robertson, stated in December {that a} urine check from a break up pattern confirmed the steroid got here from an ointment.


Animal Wellness Motion govt director Marty Irby applauded the stewards in a press release for taking motion towards Baffert, whom he known as “American horse racing’s most notorious violator.”


“Baffert continues to pull horse racing by the mud in scandal after scandal,” Irby stated, “and we name on each racing jurisdiction within the nation to carry him accountable by reciprocating the Kentucky Horse Racing Fee’s suspension in their very own state. We’re elated that Baffert will not be collaborating within the upcoming 2022 Kentucky Derby and consider the horses will likely be higher off, and the occasion can have extra credibility, with out him.”


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AP Racing Author Beth Harris contributed to this report.

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