Winning tickets are still winners

2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for an illegal steroid after the race and could end up disqualified. Legendary trainer Bob Baffert said that the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, a steroid typically used to treat inflamed joints. This used to be twice the legal limit for race horses in Kentucky, but the rules were recently changed to not allow it at all.

Should Medina Spirit fail a follow-up test, Churchill Downs said he would be disqualified. Runner-up Mandaloun would be crowned the Kentucky Derby champ and all other horses would move up one place.

Unfortunately for those who bet on Mandaloun – over $1.35 million was wagered on the horse via Churchill Downs’ online betting site – their tickets will not be converted to winners. No payouts will change, except for the $1.86 million purse that went to Medina Spirit’s owner and team. That will have to be returned. Medina Spirit bettors will still keep their winnings.

Baffert has been rather unconvincing

Bob Baffert’s reaction to the failed drug test was publicly one of shock, as one would expect. Over the weekend, he said, “I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something that I didn’t do,” vowing to cooperate with investigators and conduct an investigation himself.

But then he started saying things that made him sound quite guilty. In a Monday morning appearance on Fox News, rather than simply saying he didn’t know what happened and he will work to find out, he said, “We live in a different world now. This America’s different and…it was like a cancel culture kind of a thing.”

So the woke police are coming for Medina Spirit. Got it.

Then, according to local Louisville sports reporter Rick Bozich, Baffert said there was an issue with testing because a groom urinated in the horse’s stall and the horse proceeded to eat the soiled hay. The groom allegedly had been on cough medicine, so the horse injested whatever came out in the pee.

On Tuesday, Baffert had another explanation. He said that Medina Spirit had been treated for dermatitis using an ointment called Otomax. The ointment contained betamethasone, which his experts said could be the reason for the positive test.

Baffert remained steadfast that he did not know until Tuesday how betamethasone could have entered the horse’s system. He also said that it is a problem that such a small amount could result in a disqualification, adding, “….my pharmacologists have told me that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the outcome of the race.”

Medina Spirit is Baffert’s fifth horse to have tested positive for a banned substance (or known to have tested positive) in the past 13 months.

Baffert has been suspended from Churchill Downs. He still plans on running Medina Spirit in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, agreeing to prerace blood testing and medical monitoring for the horse. He will not attend the race, saying he did not want to be a distraction.

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