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Famed horse trainer Bob Baffert is reportedly suing the New York Racing Association in order to receive additional drug testing for his award-winning horse Medina Spirit.
Medina Spirit, who won the Kentucky Derby in May, is now in danger of losing his title after testing positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, a performance-enhancing drug that decreases inflammation.
Last week, Churchill Downs assigned a ban to Baffert—and any horse trained under Baffert—prior to the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes to conclude the 2021 Triple Crown.
As the crux of the lawsuit states, Baffert complains that the NYRA provided testing that did not account for the heightened levels of betamethasone likely to have been caused as a secondhand effect of a different ointment:
“The manner in which the betamethasone found its way into Medina Spirit is critical. There is a huge difference in a betamethasone finding due to an interarticular joint injection versus one from a topical ointment—from both a regulatory and public relations standpoint.”
Should the lawsuit fail, Medina Spirit will be retroactively disqualified for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, negating his win. Mandaloun placed second in the Derby and is next in line for the award.
Other notable horses trained under Baffert include Life is Good and Concert Tour.
Rombauer—winner of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown—participated in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, leaving Medina Spirit as the odd horse out with the ban prohibiting the horse from partaking in the final contest. Essential Quality went on to win the 2021 Belmont Stakes.
Baffert, 68, has trained horses to a record seven Kentucky Derbies, seven Preakness Stakes, and three Belmont Stakes throughout his career.
Barring a third drug test approved by the court and the NYRA, Baffert and Medina will continue to look ahead to 2024 with nothing but blinders on.