Kentucky Derby 2021 Winner Medina Spirit Fails Post-Race Drug Test

by Evan Reier

After winning a tightly-contested Kentucky Derby, there is now uncertainty and potential scandal. Medina Spirit, the winning horse, failed a drug test.

The news was announced Sunday morning, May 9. According to ESPN, Medina Spirit tested positive and above the threshold of betamethasone. Further, the Kentucky Derby winner had 21 picograms of the anti-inflammatory drug, which is over double the amount allowed.

The trainer of Medina Spirit, Bob Baffert, is adamant that this was not his doing.

“I got the biggest gut punch in racing, for something I didn’t do,” Baffert said. “This shouldn’t have happened. There’s a problem somewhere. It didn’t come from us… He ran a gallant race.”

Per ESPN, Baffert also claims that the horse was never treated with betamethasone.

The failed test marks just one of many issues and scandals horse racing has suffered over the past several years. Many have also included Bob Baffert at the center of the issues.

Kentucky Derby Winner Medina Spirit and His Trainer, Bob Baffert

In terms of horse racing trainers, there’s not a bigger name than Bob Baffert. The 68-year-old is not just the most recent trainer to notch a win, but one of the most decorated in racing.

In 2015, American Pharoah won the Triple Crown under Baffert’s work. He followed up with another Triple Crown in 2018 while training Justify.

In the past year and before the Kentucky Derby, the most notable story surrounding Baffert was two more positive tests. Two of his horses, Charlatan and Gamine, tested positive for lidocaine, a painkiller. The pair tested positive after racing in the 2020 Arkansas Derby.

After initially being suspended for 15 days, Baffert did win an appeals case.

“There’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert,” Baffert said after Medina Spirit’s positive test. “I’m worried about our sport. Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.”