Medina Spirit is now not the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The colt, who died unexpectedly in December, was formally disqualified by Kentucky racing officers on Monday for failing a drug take a look at after winningthe race.
Medina Spirit is barely the third horse within the 147-year historical past of the race to obtain such a penalty after ending first. The choice means the colt’s proprietor, Amr Zedan, is not going to acquire the $1.8 million first-place verify, which was by no means paid out and which now goes to Mandaloun’s proprietor, Juddmonte, the racing and breeding enterprise based by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who died final yr. It additionally erases the Corridor of Fame coach Bob Baffert’s seventh Kentucky Derby victory, which was a report.
As well as, Baffert was suspended for 90 days starting March 8 and fined $7,500. The ruling adopted a listening to by way of Zoom on Feb. 14 earlier than a three-member panel of stewards for the Kentucky Horse Racing Affiliation.
The drug present in Medina Spirit’s system was betamethasone, a corticosteroid injected into joints to scale back ache and swelling. Baffert and his attorneys denied injecting the colt and stated the drug was utilized topically to deal with a pores and skin rash on Medina Spirit’s hind finish.
Neither Baffert nor his attorneys had been out there for remark. Each the coach and his authorized staff have indicated they are going to enchantment the ruling earlier than the horse racing fee in an administrative listening to. They’ve additionally stated they are going to pursue all treatments within the courtroom system.
The disqualification places a brand new stain on a sport troubled by doping issues and locations Baffert’s repute and future within the sport in jeopardy. Baffert, whose horses received the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2018, is thoroughbred horse racing’s most recognizable character.
The choice by Kentucky racing officers comes at a time when the Triple Crown season is heating up and the hunt for qualifying factors to earn a spot within the Derby’s beginning gate is getting pressing. Churchill Downs, the monitor in Louisville, Ky., that hosts the Derby, has suspended Baffert from the race for 2 years and refused to award qualifying factors to horses he trains.
He has three of probably the most completed 3-year-old colts in his barn — two of them, Corniche and Newgrange, are undefeated. If their homeowners need to take part within the Derby, they have to switch their horses to a different coach and hope to earn qualifying factors in future prep races.
Final month, Baffert threatened to sue Churchill Downs if the monitor doesn’t elevate the two-year ban, saying that his proper to due course of was violated and that he had been unlawfully excluded from Churchill Downs and the Derby, based on a wide-ranging draft authorized criticism obtained by The New York Instances. The criticism has not been filed.
Invoice Carstanjen, the chief government of Churchill Downs, stated the criticism was “meritless.” He threatened to countersue if it was filed and emphasised that Baffert was a repeat offender. Within the 2020 Kentucky Oaks, the nation’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, Baffert-trained Gamine examined constructive for a similar substance as Medina Spirit after ending third. In all, Baffert’s horses have failed 30 drug checks over 4 a long time, together with 5 in a current 13-month interval.
“This threatened lawsuit is yet one more tactic from Mr. Baffert’s well-worn playbook of obfuscating the info, inventing excuses to clarify constructive drug checks and making an attempt guilty others to keep away from accountability for his personal actions,” Carstanjen instructed The Instances.
New York racing officers have sought to bar Baffert from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga, alleging in a current listening to that the coach had dedicated conduct detrimental to the perfect pursuits of racing, to the well being and security of horses and jockeys, and to its enterprise operations.
The necropsy outcomes for Medina Spirit, who died after a timed exercise at Santa Anita Park, had been inconclusive, however indicated the colt most probably died of a coronary heart assault. Hair, blood and urine samples confirmed no proof of doping, California racing officers stated on Friday.
The disqualification, together with current responsible pleas and convictions of outstanding trainers and veterinarians for doping horses, lends urgency to the implementation of the Horseracing Integrity and Security Act.
It’s imagined to take impact July 1, 2022, and requires a board overseen by the Federal Commerce Fee to jot down guidelines and penalties to be enforced by the USA Anti-Doping Company, which regulates Olympic and different elite athletes in the USA. The company revealed the bicycle owner Lance Armstrong’s dishonest and issued him a lifetime suspension in 2012.
USADA’s position is unsure, nonetheless, as a result of the Horseracing Integrity and Security Authority, which is charged with making a framework and price range for enforcement, couldn’t attain an settlement with the company. The authority is exploring different choices for an enforcement entity, however has indicated that it could attempt to reopen negotiations with USADA.
With Medina Spirit’s obvious victory at Churchill Downs final yr, Baffert received his seventh Kentucky Derby, surpassing a report set by Ben Jones, who final received in 1952.
As an alternative, nonetheless, Baffert and Medina Spirit be part of Most Safety and Dancer’s Picture as the one horses to have their Derby victories overturned.
In 2019, Most Safety was first throughout the end line, solely to be disqualified for nearly knocking over a rival horse within the far flip and slowing the momentum of others. The subsequent yr, Most Safety’s coach, Jason Servis, was amongst 27 folks charged by federal prosecutors in a wide-ranging scheme to secretly dope horses and cheat the betting public. He’s awaiting trial.
In 1968, Dancer’s Picture’s victory was taken away after a drug take a look at confirmed the presence of a banned anti-inflammatory. That case lingered within the courts for 4 years earlier than the disqualification was lastly upheld.
Extra litigation is feasible after the Medina Spirit ruling. Bettors weren’t made entire by the Kentucky determination.
Whereas those that backed Medina Spirit saved their winnings, those that supported Mandaloun are nonetheless left with shedding tickets.