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Medina Spirit disqualified from 2021 Kentucky Derby, Bob Baffert fined


2022/03/04


John Velazquez, aboard Medina Spirit, wins the Kentucky Derby. (photo: Michael Clevenger and Christopher Granger/Courier Journal)
WLKY News, Louisville, Ky. The decision is in. Medina Spirit, who died in December, has had his title stripped as the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner and his trainer, Bob Baffert, has been suspended and fined.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced Monday February 21, 2022 that Medina Spirit has been disqualified. The official winner is now the second-place horse, Mandaloun.

That means for the second time in three years, the first horse to cross the finish line is not the winner.

Medina Spirit's fate as the winner had been in the balance after failing a drug test not long after the May 1 race.

The horse died at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on Monday morning December 6, 2021 following a five-furlong workout.  [Blood, hair, and urine samples from the racehorse were taken immediately after Medina Spirit’s death and sent to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB). A full necropsy would be performed by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to determine an exact cause of death, track officials said in December.] No definitive cause of death could be determined in a necropsy.

In addition to Monday's ruling on the winner, Baffert has been suspended for 90 days and was issued a $7,500 fine. That suspension means he is "denied the privileges of all facilities under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Entry of all horses owned or trained by Mr. Baffert is denied pending transfer to persons
acceptable to the stewards."

According to the ruling, all purse money, $1.86 million, which went to the owner, trainer, etc., must be forfeited and returned to the association. It will be redistributed based on the new official order of finish.

Baffert's attorney, Clark Brewster, said they will appeal the decision.

Additional information from Tim Sullivan at the Louisville Courier Journal: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/horses/horse-racing/2022/02/21/medina-spirit-disqualified-kentucky-derby-win-baffert-suspended/6683456001/

Update March 4, 2022:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Friday (March 4, 2022) unanimously upheld the suspension and fine of thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert, amid allegations that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit had banned drugs in his system, after failing a drug test taken shortly after the race.

After finding the drug Betamethasone in the horse’s system, which is banned on race day, and saying it was Baffert’s fourth medication violation in a one-year period, the Board of Stewards last month (February 2022) imposed a 90-day suspension and fined him $7,500. Medina Spirit was also disqualified as the Derby winner.

Baffert’s 90-day suspension will run March 8 through June 5. During that time the stewards ruled, “He is denied the privileges of all facilities under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The entry of all horses owned or trained by Baffert is denied, pending transfer to persons acceptable to the stewards.”

Churchill Downs has barred Baffert from entering horses in the 2022 and 2023 Kentucky Derbies, and the New York Racing Association has prohibited him from entering horses at Belmont, Saratoga, and Aqueduct tracks.

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