LOUISVILLE, Ky. (NewsNation Now) — After his Kentucky Derby winning horse tested positive a second time for banned substances, Churchill Downs, Inc. suspended trainer Bob Baffert for two years Wednesday.
Baffert’s lawyer said earlier Wednesday that a split-sample test of derby winner Medina Spirit came back positive for the presence of the steroid betamethasone.
“Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated,” Bill Carstanjen, CDI’s CEO, said in a statement.
Attorney Craig Robertson said the test showed 25 picograms of the steroid, after 21 were found initially. Even a trace amount of betamethasone is prohibited on race day in Kentucky and considered a violation.
Robertson said additional testing is being conducted to try to trace the source of the drug to an ointment to treat a skin infection and not an injection.
“At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax,” he said. “We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”
Carstanjen was not keen on that explanation.
“Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility,” his statement read.
A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Sherelle Roberts-Pierre said the commission “values fairness and transparency and will provide information to the media and public at the close of an investigation.”
The KHRC can vacate Medina Spirit’s derby win. Mandaloun would be elevated as the winner in that case.
Baffert is currently suspended by New York and not allowed to enter any horses in the Belmont Stakes pending the Derby investigation.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.