Bob Baffert, the trainer for Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, said he's stunned the horse failed a drug test after the race, which could disqualify the colt from the derby.
Baffert, who has won the Kentucky Derby seven times, has been suspended by Churchill Downs. He has asserted he's done nothing wrong.
“I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something I didn't do,” he told reporters.
Medina Spirit will undergo a second test. If it comes back positive, the horse could become the second in Kentucky Derby history to lose a title because of a drug violation.
“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," Churchill Downs said in a statement, adding that runner-up Mandaloun will be named the winner if the findings are upheld.
“It’s disturbing. It’s an injustice to the horse,” Baffert said at a press conference.
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On Sunday, Baffert revealed that Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of the anti-inflammatory steroid betamethasone, twice the legal racing limit in Kentucky. Betamethasone was also found in Gamine, a horse that Baffert trained and finished third in last year’s Kentucky Oaks race. The horse was retroactively disqualified, and Baffert was fined.
Baffert denied treating Medina Spirit with the drug to NBC News and said he's requested the horse's split-sample to be analyzed, along with hair and DNA, to prove his innocence.
“That’s the part that's really disturbing to us is that we don't use betamethasone, and my vets don't even carry it anymore,” he said in a Zoom call with NBC News.
Baffert is no stranger to this type of controversy.
“This is his 30th time a horse in his care has tested positive for something,” New York Times reporter Joe Drape told NBC News. “He's had five within the last year now.”
But Baffert plans to keep fighting.
“We're giving them everything. We're going to really, really fight hard for this horse,” he said.
According to Baffert, the results of the split-sample could take up to a month. Next weekend, Baffert plans to race Medina Spirit and another horse, Concert Tour, in Maryland's Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Local racing officials have yet to make a final decision.