Speaking to reporters Sunday morning, Baffert denied that the horse had ever been treated with the drug, saying his team would conduct its own investigation.
“Yesterday I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something that I didn’t do,” Baffert said, adding it was an “injustice to the horse.”
“I don’t feel embarrassed, I feel like I was wronged. But I’m going to fight it.”
Betamethasone is an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid that is allowed in horse racing at a certain level. But Baffert said he’d been informed that Medina Spirit’s postrace test detected 21 picograms per milliliter — more than double the legal threshold in Kentucky racing.
The news comes just over a week after the 3-year-old brown colt won the Derby, one of the sport’s most famous events, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, beating out second-place Mandaloun by half a length. It was Baffert’s seventh victory at the Derby, a record.
As of Sunday, Medina Spirit had not been disqualified, Baffert said. A split sample from Medina Spirit will now be tested, and if the original results are confirmed, then Baffert would have a chance to appeal.
If an appeal is unsuccessful, Medina Spirit would be stripped of the Kentucky Derby crown as well as the winning prize money.
There is no word yet if Sunday’s announcement will affect plans for Medina Spirit to run in next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
In a statement Sunday, Churchill Downs said it was aware of the allegations. Churchill Downs said it “will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”
“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” the statement said.
“We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commissions’ investigation before taking further steps.”
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