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Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit stripped of 2021 title after failed drug test

John Velazquez rides Medina Spirit across the finish line at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in May 2021. Medina Spirit failed a post race drug test and on Monday, was stripped of his 2021 title.
Jeff Roberson
/
AP
John Velazquez rides Medina Spirit across the finish line at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., in May 2021. Medina Spirit failed a post race drug test and on Monday, was stripped of his 2021 title.

Updated February 22, 2022 at 2:02 PM ET

The 2021 winner of the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit, has been disqualified from his win last May and his trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced Monday.

Medina Spirit, who died in December, failed a drug test after finishing the Kentucky Derby last year.

Baffert has been under scrutiny for his history of training horses who fail drug tests. In the case of Medina Spirit last year, he denied any wrongdoing and said the horse had never knowingly been treated with the drug betamethasone.

While the drug is commonly used to treat pain and inflammation in horses, it's an illegal substance on race days.

The commission said in its ruling that lab testing at the University of California, Davis, confirmed that Medina Spirit had betamethasone in his blood.

Baffert's suspension will last 90 days and he has been fined $7,500.

Baffert's attorney Clark Brewster said that he's "disappointed" in the commission's decision and plans to appeal.

"We are disappointed by the Commission's ruling, but not surprised. This ruling represents an egregious departure from both the facts and the law... We will appeal, and we will prevail when the facts and rules are presented to detached, neutral decisionmakers," Brewster said.

Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, released a statement Monday recognizing Mandaloun as the winner of race last year.

"Winning the Kentucky Derby is one of the most exciting achievements in sports and we look forward to celebrating Mandaloun on a future date in a way that is fitting of this rare distinction," the statement said.


A version of story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

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