Medina Spirit fails drug test

While I somewhat follow racing, I just don’t understand how Bob Baffert is constantly found to have administered an illegal substance to his horses. A second sample has to confirm someone gave betamethasone to Medina Spirit, but his record makes him look guilty. Can anyone explain this?

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test, once more putting the practices of his Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert under uncomfortable scrutiny.

The colt cannot be disqualified until a split sample confirms the result. Baffert will then have an opportunity to appeal. If disqualified, Medina Spirit would be stripped of the Derby title and the winning purse.

In a news conference Sunday morning outside of his barn at Churchill Downs, Baffert said neither he nor anyone on his team administered the drug betamethasone to Medina Spirit.

“I was totally shocked when I heard this news,” Baffert said. “I’m still trying to absorb it. I am the most scrutinized trainer. And I am okay with that. The last thing I want to do is something that would jeopardize the greatest sport.”

Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid injected into joints to reduce pain and swelling. It is the same substance found last year in Baffert’s Gamine after the filly finished third in the Kentucky Oaks. Gamine was disqualified and her owners were denied the purse for her third place finish. Baffert was fined $1,500.


Very disappointing for American TB racing.


Yes. There are a number of people on this board that are involved in racing or closely follow it, so I hoped they could explain why he is not booted from the sport.


Holy Crap.

This is why an old raceman told me years ago why he didn’t bet on horses, cause too many humans were involved.
I’ve watched another trainer here in Florida get charged over and over with drugging his horses,
but he’s still in the business.


That medication is also used for asthma.
I wonder if some groom or exercise person uses that, how maybe is showing in the horses?

Doesn’t make sense a trainer would use something illegal at that level, knowing his horses are tested, so much involved???


I’d bet he had joint injections too close to the window where he would test clean.


According to this article, the sample had twice the legal limit of the drug. I’ve owned five thoroughbreds, two came off the track. Both horses off the track had bone spurs in their hocks. I guess it bothers me that a horse would be run that had joint issues. But then, maybe they all do.

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Do all the horses undergo post-race testing? Or only the top finishers?

Baffert was visibly shocked when Medina Spirit won. Maybe he figured the horse would finish far back and not be drug-tested.


This is also being discussing in the Triple Crown thread…

Bob Baffert has claimed the horse has never received betamethasone.

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I saw that after I posted, but felt it was worth a bigger discussion about Bob Baffert.

Wow. Who came in second? I’ll bet they’re having an interesting day…

To the best of my knowledge, betamethasone use in asthmatics is really uncommon these days. In the 70s - sure, but we have far better inhaled steroids these days. You might be thinking of beclamethasone which is still commonly used (in animals even!), but the thing to remember about inhaled steroids is that their main benefit is that they have a far more localized effect - the doses are typically low and systemic effects/uptake are even lower. It also seems unlikely that using an inhaler would somehow transfer enough betamethasone (or any steroid) to have it end up somewhere in a high enough dosage to test in a horse. These days, if you’re using betamethasone, it’s likely an injectable or a cream/topical form (for skin reactions). Odd that Baffert has so many workers on drugs that you could use illegally in horses. So many workers who don’t know how to wash their hands and store their medication appropriately. At some point I would become tyrannical and demand hand washing when you arrived and hand washing following any breaks.

Now, of course, if it wasn’t my workers exposing my horses… If they were just convenient scapegoats, because I can pretend that the highly qualified, highly skilled, highly experienced people handling horses at this level would be so stupid as to continually make the same mistake over and over again… If classism and racism would let people truly believe these people were too stupid to be trainable… Well. I guess one might have a lot of “accidental exposures.”

I have a rule with people. At some point, when the same accident happens again and again, it’s on purpose. It’s helped me dodge a lot of shady characters who were always sooooo sorry, and yet just couldn’t seem to stop pulling the same shitty behavior.


Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie finished second and third. From what I read, betting results are final, so the people who bet on Mandoloun to win will be so disappointed!

I know, I am on QVAR for asthma, a relative of betamethasone and yes, not systemic, targetting the lungs, an inhaler, so side effects are minimal.
It was just a suggestion, since we don’t yet know what the source is.
Also think, who all would love to interfere with Baffert?
If he is not the one playing dirty here, where are the residues coming from?
Until there is an answer found, the guilty party is unknown.
I agree that whatever is going on there, the buck stops with Baffert.
His horses to manage, he is the one responsible, guilty or not.


Here is information on the use of betamethasone on horses. If the sample did contain twice the amount, the horse would have been injected recently and there was some suggestion the injection was timed to try to avoid a positive test. I’m not sure how that would work, though.

Note: this drug may only be administered by a licensed vet. Sure.


Like my mom’s neighbor whose house has burnt down 4 times?


That would be my first guess.


Except that someone said Baffert insisted horse never had that medication?

Would any such show in vet records if he had?
We have vet records of anything done to our horses, if nothing else, in the bill as it specifies what was done and if any medication which and how much, etc. and are charged for that.