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Baffert’s lawyers: Medina Spirit failed Derby drug test with ointment, not injection, test shows

Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit
Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 9:13 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2021 at 9:24 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Legendary horse trainer Bob Baffert was telling the truth when he said his Kentucky Derby-winning horse Medina Spirit was given an ointment that resulted in a failed drug test after the race — not through an injection.

Dr. George Maylin, the director of the New York Drug Testing & Research Program, confirmed to Baffert’s attorneys that the betamethasone found in Medina Spirit’s blood after the horse won Kentucky Derby 147 was from a topical ointment called Otomax. Maylin confirmed the findings through a split urine sample taken from the horse after the race.

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“In other words, it has now been scientifically proven that what Bob Baffert said from the beginning was true – Medina Spirit was never injected with betamethasone and the findings following the Kentucky Derby were solely the result of the horse being treated for a skin condition by way of a topical ointment – all at the direction of Medina Spirit’s veterinarian,” W. Craig Robertson III, Baffert’s attorney, said in a statement.

(Story continues below photo)

Photo showing the dermatitis on the hind end of Medina Spirit following the Santa Anita derby....
Photo showing the dermatitis on the hind end of Medina Spirit following the Santa Anita derby. Trainer Bob Baffert says the dermatitis was being treated with ointment called Otomax to heal the area and keep it from spreading.(Source: Bob Baffert)

Robertson said Medina Spirit received betamethasone valerate in the form of an ointment; betamethasone acetate, on the other hand, is administered as an injection. The use of the ointment is not a race violation, he said.

“This should definitively resolve the matter in Kentucky and Medina Spirit should remain the official winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby,” Robertson said.

According to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s regulations on drug, medication and substance withdrawal guidelines, intra-articular administration of the drug through an injection is banned. Betamethasone through an injection is not allowed to be used on horses on race day because the anti-inflammatory would potentially mask an injury before a race, the executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) said.

The regulations state: “KRS 230.240(2) requires the commission to promulgate administrative regulations restricting or prohibiting the administration of drugs or stimulants or other improper acts to horses prior to the horse participating in a race. ... The following have a fourteen (14) day stand down period for intra-articular injection. Any IA corticosteroid injection within fourteen (14) days is a violation: (i) Betamethasone, via IA administration at 9 mg total dose in a single articular space.”

Read the KHRS drug, medication, and substance withdrawal guidelines here.

WAVE 3 News has reached out to Baffert and Churchill Downs for comment. This story will be updated.

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