Bob Baffert asserts Medina Spirit's Kentucky Derby win was valid, invokes 'cancel culture'

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Fox News 10 May, 2021 - 10:13am 30 views

Did Medina spirit win the Kentucky Derby?

On May 1, Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby by a half-length. Baffert's team learned of the positive result from Kentucky officials on Saturday, he said. The test results were obtained by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Friday, Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the commission, said in a statement. ABC NewsKentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit fails drug test, trainer says

Why was the Kentucky Derby winner disqualified?

In the end, Maximum Security was disqualified for coming off the rail and impeding the path of the horses chasing him. Country House was declared the winner. For the first time in the history of the race, the horse who crossed the finish line first was disqualified for interference and stripped of his title. The New York TimesKentucky Derby Winner’s DQ Won’t Change the Bets. Here’s Why.

Who owns Medina spirit the winner of the Kentucky Derby?

On 12-1 odds, Medina Spirit was a shock winner of the 146th Kentucky Derby on May 1. The colt was sold as a yearling for only $1,000 and was a bargain for current owner Amr Zedan of Saudi Arabia at $35,000. Sports IllustratedBaffert Denies Administering Drug After Medina Spirit’s Positive Test

Does Bob Baffert drugs horses?

You know, there's problems in racing, but it's not Bob Baffert." The New York Times said in November 2020 that Baffert-trained horses have failed at least 29 drug tests in his four-decade career. WPVI-TVChurchill Downs suspends Bob Baffert after Kentucky Derby-winning horse fails drug test

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Bob Baffert says he is ‘fighting for his reputation’ after failed drug test.

Bob Baffert, the legendary horse racing trainer who has won seven Kentucky Derbies during his career, was adamant Monday that his latest winner Medina Spirit was not treated with a drug he tested positive for in a post-race sample.

Baffert appeared on Fox News Channel’s "America’s Newsroom" with Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino and said he never thought he would be fighting for his reputation.

"It did not happen. That horse has never been treated with (betamethasone). Actually, it’s a legal therapeutic medicine and the amount that was in it wouldn’t have any effect on the horse anyway. But we don’t … That horse was never treated with that and so that’s the disturbing part of it.

"I never thought I’d have to be fighting for my reputation and the poor horse’s reputation. Because of the new regulations the regulators have put, they’re testing these horses at contaminated levels and it’s been a horrible experience."

Baffert doubled down on his stance, saying "it did not happen."

"It did not happen and that’s the really seriously troubling part of it," he added. "We hired investigators but sometimes you never find out. It’s just a tragedy what happened in this race."

Baffert took a shot at the testing protocols. He said officials test at picogram levels (which is equal to one trillionth of a gram). He described it as a salt grain in an Olympic-sized pool and offered theories on how Medina Spirit could have come in contact with the drug.

"We live in a new world now. These horses don’t live in a bubble," he said. "They’re in an open farm. People are touching them. He went from the Derby to after the Derby everybody’s out there touching them. I mean there’s so many ways these horses can get contaminated and when they’re testing at these really ridiculously low levels … I’ve been saying it for over a year now these are gonna get innocent people in trouble and this is what happened now."

Medina Spirit’s victory at Churchill Downs gave Baffert the all-time record for most wins by a trainer at the Derby.

When word broke about Medina Spirit’s positive test, Churchill Downs released a scathing statement Sunday saying that Baffert won’t be able to enter horses at the track, and failure to comply with the rules and regulations puts the safety of the horses and jockeys at risk and can ruin the integrity of the sport.

"Churchill Downs will not tolerate it," the statement said. "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. 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."

Baffert responded to Churchill Downs on Monday and said he plans to run the horse for the next Triple Crown event.

"Churchill Downs came out with that statement – that was pretty harsh," he said after telling Hemmer he hadn’t heard anything about Medina Spirit’s status for the Preakness.

"With all the noise … We live in a different world now. This America is different. It was like a cancel culture kind of a thing so they’re reviewing it. I haven’t been told anything. We’re prepared to run."

Baffert added that he believes the investigation into Medina Spirit will "take months."

"We did not cheat to win the Kentucky Derby," he said.

"I want to protect my legacy. I’ve trained great horses. I’ve trained the best horses that have run through there. My record proves it. This is horrible what has happened. The horse never got that medication. It’s an injustice to the horse. He’s a great horse. He ran hard. He deserved to win that race and it kills me because these horses are like my children and for something to happen to him like that is horrible but we have to deal with it and hopefully it will get resolved."

The Preakness Stakes is set for Saturday. The draw was moved to Tuesday because of the Medina Spirit controversy. Baffert said he plans to run two horses at the race.

Baffert's attorney, Craig Robertson, confirmed to Fox News the trainer is ready to file a temporary restraining order (TRO) if the horse’s entry at the Preakness is denied.

If a judge were to then approve the order, that would prohibit Pimlico Race Course from denying Baffert the ability to enter Medina Spirit in the race.

Robertson said he has not yet had discussions with Pimlico’s management but would be "reaching out to them" Monday.

"Hopefully they reach a decision that is one we can live with. If not, we will go to court and we will seek a TRO," he said.

He added: "We don’t even have an official positive yet. Any decision to ban him, by anyone, be it Churchill or Pimlico or anyone else, is unlawful."

Pimlico Race Course had issued a statement on Sunday saying it was reviewing Medina’s Spirit eligibility. The company pushed back the draw for the Preakness until Tuesday at 4 p.m. to review the matter.

Fox News' Marta Dhanis contributed to this report.

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One thing about Medina Spirit is clear: He should not be allowed to run the Preakness

The Washington Post 10 May, 2021 - 12:57pm

So why are Maryland officials allowing Medina Spirit to run on the Pimlico racetrack on Saturday?

The whole idea of regulating the use of these substances is that they can mask pain and jeopardize horses. Churchill Downs has suspended Baffert from entering any horses there, on the rationale that “Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys. … Churchill Downs will not tolerate it.” But apparently the Maryland racing commission and Pimlico will tolerate it. And Baffert is also free to enter Medina Spirit in the June 5 Belmont Stakes, which could well be run before Baffert’s appeal is decided.

This is the state of racing in a nutshell: Baffert can go right ahead entering Medina Spirit and his other charges in Triple Crown races because the balkanized powers of thoroughbred racing can’t muster the collective moral will to put carefulness ahead of handicapping.

The bay colt was scheduled to be loaded into a van Monday for shipment to Pimlico, where he will gallop a mile and three-sixteenths in the dirt just two weeks after the Derby, while everyone awaits the result of the “split sample,” the second test demanded by Baffert. Filling the starting gates with high-profile contenders is apparently a bigger priority than protecting the horses or the other competitors.

Baffert could well be innocent. But this is the fifth time in a year one of his horses has returned a positive test. Last year his filly Gamine wound up disqualified from her third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks with a positive test for betamethasone, after Baffert’s lawyer fought a hairsplitting legal siege in which he argued over “thresholds” for the medication. She also tested positive for Lidocaine at the Arkansas Derby, which Baffert contended made its way into her from a patch worn by his assistant trainer. All of which made his profession of utter “shock” that betamethasone was found in Medina Spirit — and his rambling conspiracy theories about “these contamination levels” — thoroughly unconvincing. As if someone is sneaking these cortisones and caines into feed buckets.

“It’s an injustice to the horse,” Baffert said of the positive test.

Now, there are a lot of potential injustices here, but Medina Spirit’s honor is not what needs protecting. It’s his legs that need the protection.

Interestingly, Baffert supported the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act by Congress last year in the wake of a spate of equine deaths on the track and horse-doping-ring indictments. HISA calls for a national disciplinary body to be established by July 2022, but various factions within racing are bitterly challenging its constitutionality and authority. If Baffert truly does support a system of uniform anti-drugging protections, there is something he can do to prove his sincerity. He ought to withhold Medina Spirit from the Preakness and other races until this is settled.

“There’s problems in racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert,” he said.

Fine, then make yourself part of the solution. Set the example. Tell the horse’s Saudi owner, Amr Zedan, you won’t saddle him until you are cleared.

No one should need a federal law or a threat of suspension to do the right thing by a reliant horse. Not trainers and not owners, whose see-no-evil role isn’t talked about nearly enough.

Who does it hurt to hold the horse out of the Preakness? The owner, maybe, sort of. Gamblers. Does it hurt the horse? No. But it might hurt him to run him.

Horsemen love to wax lyrical all the time about the deep ethical component of their work and the mysterious, profound responsibility of training creatures that are silent and not autonomous. So few prove it with unilateral moral decisions. Horses will run for fun — anyone who has been to an Ocala farm has seen them do it — but compelling them to do it to the point of endangerment is altogether different. There is only one thing that makes thoroughbred racing a meaningful exercise, as opposed to a brutish amusement, and that is the right relationship between handlers and their horses. Bob Baffert and Pimlico have a chance to demonstrate that right relationship. At peril of demonstrating these races should not be run.

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