Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday morning told reporters that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit had tested positive for an illegal amount of the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone and could be in danger of being disqualified as Derby winner, if a second sample comes back positive.
An emotional Baffert made an opening statement before taking questions from reporters.
“Yesterday I got a call from Jimmy Barnes heading for the airport, he told me he had some terrible news that he’d just been served by the Kentucky Racing Commission that Medina Spirit, our Derby horse, had been tested positive for 21 pictographs of betamethasone.
And all I can tell you is that betamethasone, even though it is an allowed therapeutic medication, we did not give it, my veterinarian, nobody here, in fact Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone.
“I cannot believe that I’m here before you guys, I never thought I’d be here. Yesterday I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something I that didn’t do. This is really disturbing, it’s an injustice to the horse. I feel like, here you win a race and you’re still not, to me, I don’t know what’s going on in racing right now, but something isn’t right. I don’t feel embarrassed.
“I feel like I was wronged. We’re going to do a complete investigation, our own investigation, we’re going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we’ve always been. One thing about it, in California, everything is documented every day, what the horses get.
“This horse was never treated with that. He’s a great horse. He doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race. To me, I just feel, this last 18 months, what I’ve gone through, it’s like all of us right here, just imagine yourselves going to work every day, and if they tested you every day for these levels, these contamination levels, and told you if you tested positive you would be fired, that’s how I feel.
“I do not feel safe to train. It’s getting worse, and to me, going forward, how do I enjoy training? How do I move forward from this, knowing that something can happen? It’s a complete injustice, but I’m going to fight it tooth and nail, because I owe it to the horse, I owe it to the owner, and to our industry.
“Our industry needs to step up, and we need to do a better job in racing. There’s something wrong right now. I’ve been talking about it, nothing seems to be done about it, but these contamination levels — and I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I know everybody’s not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me. There’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert. I just want to get that across to you guys!”