A trainer with a long history of horses failing drug tests believes he has identified the true reason Kentucky Derby champion Medina Spirit failed his most recent test: cancel culture.
Bob Baffert revealed Sunday that Medina Spirit, his new Derby champion, failed a post-race drug test after the colt was found to have twice the legal limit (21 picograms) of betamethasone, a potent steroid, in its bloodstream despite the horse never having been treated with the drug.
Baffert, a seven-time Derby winner, has been on the defensive in the two days following the announcement, blaming the nebulous idea of “cancel culture,” which formerly meant “political correctness” or “facing consequences for conduct,” for yet another of his horses failing a drug test. Churchill Downs has suspended him indefinitely pending the outcome of the track’s internal investigation.
“I believe it was a knee-jerk reaction to cancel culture,” Baffert said during a Monday interview on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
“They infringed on my right to due process,” Baffert said.
“I have never been a believer in conspiracies,” he said. “It also seems odd now that there is a horse that did not receive that particular medication. That was not the case. That alone is mind-boggling that somebody… had him infected somewhere.”
Baffert, who has won a slew of significant horse races, also seems to be very unlucky. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, 31 of Baffert’s horses have been flagged for medical violations, including five in the 12-month span ending on Derby Day last weekend. Gamine, who finished third in last year’s Kentucky Oaks, was disqualified due to a positive betamethasone test, and its owners were forced to forfeit their winnings.
Though betamethasone is not prohibited, it is used to relieve pain and conceal injuries. However, it increases the likelihood of a horse breaking its legs when galloping at top speed, such as during one of the year’s most significant races, which is why only a limited amount is permitted.
To be sure that it wasn’t really cancel culture or sabotage that induced Medina Spirit, a non-aggressive animal, to consume an excessive amount of a controlled drug, Baffert gave another implausible explanation: urine-soaked hay.
“Baffert claims that one of the test issues was caused by a groom urinating in the stall after taking cough medicine. WDRD sports writer Rick Bozich relayed that the horse eats some of the hay.
Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby victory will be null and void if she tested positive again. Baffert confirmed that he intends to run Medina Spirit in this Saturday’s Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.