Medina Spirit is stripped of the Kentucky Derby win; Bob Baffert was fined and suspended

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission ruled Mandaloun was the official 2021 Derby winner.

Medina Spirit is stripped of the Kentucky Derby win; Bob Baffert was fined and suspended

Medina Spirit's winning victory in the 2021 Kentucky Derby was a testament to Bob Baffert's status as one of the most prominent trainers in horse racing. It was removed from the race's title Monday nine months after an investigation into a failed postrace drug test.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stated in a ruling that Medina Spirit must forfeit the Derby prize money of approximately $1.86million. Baffert will also be banned from the sport for 90 days beginning next month. He must pay a $7500 fine.

Baffert's attorney stated that he intended to appeal the decision.

Mandaloun was the official winner of the race, having finished second in the 147th running. The Derby is held every year at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Churchill Downs didn't address the decision of the commission in a statement but congratulated Mandaloun’s trainer, Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux.

Officials at the horse racing facility said that Mandaloun's win in the Kentucky Derby was one of the most thrilling achievements in sports. They look forward to celebrating Mandaloun at a future date in a manner that is appropriate for this rare distinction.

After suffering an apparent heart attack in California, Medina Spirit, a 3-year old colt, , died in December. The California Horse Racing Board later stated that no cause of death was known.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission ruled that the horse had been tested positive for betamethasone in a laboratory after the Kentucky Derby. Betamethasone, a pain-relieving steroid, is legal and allowed to be used on horses. However, in many states including Kentucky, it is not allowed to enter a horse's system after a race.

Betamethasone is not recommended for over-use by veterinarians because it can cause serious bone and joint damage , and even lead to death.

Baffert denied that he had drugged his horse. He said that Medina Spirit was using a topical ointment to get the drug into him.

Medina Spirit, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Preakness Stakes and Preakness Stakes last year, was a victim of the controversy. Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer, oversaw American Pharoah's 2015 Triple Crown win and Justify's 2018 Triple Crown victory. In June, he was also removed from Churchill Downs' track for two more years.

W. Craig Robertson III (Baffert's lawyer) stated that an appeal against Medina Spirit being disqualified would be filed as soon as possible.

Robertson stated in a statement that he was disappointed by the decision. It is contrary to scientifically proven facts and rules of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Baffert's legal team also had another lawyer who argued that his client didn't violate any rules of the commission because they denied that betamethasone was administered to the horse. Clark Brewster stated that the trace amount of Medina Spirit found in the horse "couldn't have affected the horse" and "couldn't have possibly affected race outcome."

After Medina Spirit, Medina Spirit was the third disqualified horse from the Derby's prestigious event. Dancer's Image was disqualified in 1968 after being found with a banned pain reliever in a post-race drug testing. In 2019, Maximum Security's win was invalidated after it was determined that the horse had dangerously impeded the progress of its competitors.

It is highly unlikely that anyone can recover winnings from fans who placed their bets on Medina Spirit. It is unlikely that Mandaloun's backers, or any other horse that would have finished higher if Medina Spirit wasn't there, will be reimbursed for their tickets.

Robert Heleringer, a Louisville attorney, bluntly answered that Mandaloun bettors would never prevail in a legal challenge. There is no possibility.

Heleringer, the author of "Equine Regulatory Law", states that once races have been declared, they are final in terms of betting.

Heleringer, who teaches at the University of Louisville's Brandeis School of Law equine regulatory law, said, "It's just 1 of many risks any betor assumes when they place their money down."