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AP file photo by Charlie Riedel / Bob Baffert, right, who trains Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, was adamant Sunday in denying any wrongdoing after it was revealed the horse failed a drug test after the May 1 race.

Updated with more information at 6:55 p.m. on May 9, 2021.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Medina Spirit's victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a drug test the horse failed after the May 1 race, a development that led Churchill Downs to suspend U.S. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.

Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission during its investigation. Baffert's barn received word Saturday that Medina Spirit had tested positive for an excessive amount of the steroid betamethasone, which is sometimes used to treat pain and inflammation in horses.

Medina Spirit's win over Mandaloun in the Kentucky Derby stands — for now.

"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," Churchill Downs officials said in a statement released shortly after Baffert held a hastily planned news conference Sunday morning outside his barn to announce and respond to the allegations.

The track said failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the sport's integrity and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby, which is the opening race of the Triple Crown series for thoroughbreds.

"Churchill Downs will not tolerate it," the statement read. "Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack."

Medina Spirit is expected to run Saturday in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, barring an abrupt change in plans or a decision from officials at that track or Maryland's racing commission that would prevent him from entering the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Officials from 1/ST Racing — a branding arm of the Stronach Group that owns and operates Pimlico — and the Maryland Jockey Club said Sunday they would consult with state authorities and that "any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts." Officials rescheduled the post position draw for Tuesday afternoon, moving it back a day in light of the uncertainty.

"I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn't do," Baffert said of the failed drug test. "And it's disturbing. It's an injustice to the horse. ... I don't know what's going on in racing right now, but there's something not right. I don't feel embarrassed. I feel like I was wronged. We're going to do our own investigation. We're going to be transparent with the racing commission, like we've always been.

"He's a great horse. He doesn't deserve this. He ran a gallant race."

The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Kentucky Derby was Dancer's Image in 1968.

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AP photo by Jeff Roberson / John Velazquez rides Medina Spirit, left, ahead of Florent Geroux on Mandaloun and Flavien Prat on Hot Rod Charlie during the Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Although Medina Spirit pulled off an upset to win the 147th edition of the "Run for the Roses" that day, his victory is in jeopardy due to a failed drug test.

Medina Spirit is Baffert's fifth horse known to have failed a drug test in just more than a year. Flanked by his attorney, Craig Robertson, Baffert said his barn was told Medina Spirit was found to have 21 picograms of betamethasone — slightly more than double what the trainer said was the allowable amount — in a sample taken after the race.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse that finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of the filly's failed test, and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before a horse races.

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist," Baffert said. "I know everybody is not out to get me, but there's definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me? You know, there's problems in racing, but it's not Bob Baffert."

Mandaloun, which lost to Medina Spirit by a half-length, is not going to the Preakness. If Mandaloun is declared the Kentucky Derby winner, that would mean the Triple Crown pursuit for 2021 is over. It is unknown how long Kentucky officials will take to determine whether the results of the race should stand or will change.

If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner's share of the purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won't matter — those who cashed in on Medina Spirit still win, those who didn't still lose and those who backed Mandaloun missed out on a winning ticket that would have returned more than $50 on a $2 wager.

Baffert planned to saddle Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness, going for a record eighth victory in that race. Except for 2020, when the races were run out of order due to the coronavirus pandemic, Baffert is undefeated with a Derby winner in the Preakness.

Last month, Baffert won an appeals case before the Arkansas Racing Commission after he had been suspended by Oaklawn Park stewards for 15 days for a pair of positive drug tests involving two of his horses that won at the track on May 2, 2020. The horses tested positive for the painkiller lidocaine, which Baffert said they were exposed to inadvertently.

Even as Baffert insisted horse racing can do a better job of preventing doping, he also acknowledged the spotlight.

"I know I'm the most scrutinized trainer and have millions of eyes on me. But you know what? I don't have a problem with that," Baffert said. "The last thing I want to do is do something that would jeopardize the greatest two minutes in sports."

Animal Wellness Action executive director Marty Irby said in a statement that racing authorities "should throw the book" at those found guilty of violations.

The failed drug test is just another in a long series of events shadowing the sport — and its best known and most prestigious race — in recent years.

Maximum Security crossed the line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by Churchill Downs stewards for interference in what was an unprecedented move. Country House, second across the finish line in that race, is now considered the winner.

In March 2020, Jason Servis — who was Maximum Security's trainer — was part of a sweeping indictment that involved trainers, veterinarians and pharmacists in a horse doping ring. Baffert faced the doping allegations in Arkansas and Kentucky last year with Gamine.

And now this.

"I'm worried about our sport," Baffert said. "Our sport, we've taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we're going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn't do it."

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