LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert compares the firestorm around the failed drug test for Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit to "cancel culture."
Baffert spoke to Fox News and called the statement from Churchill Downs suspending him from racing at the track "pretty harsh," but he says at this point, Medina Spirit is still a go for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.
"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," said Baffert.
Medina Spirit left Churchill Downs before dawn Monday for the trip to Baltimore for the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico.
Baffert said he is not planning to be at the Preakness because he doesn't want to be a distraction. The Maryland Jockey Club and Stronach Racing have now moved the post position draw from Monday to Tuesday at 4 p.m. because of the controversy.
If a second test comes back positive, the colt could be disqualified and Mandaloun declared the winner. The drug in question, Baffert said, is betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory that Baffert says was not used to treat Medina Spirit. The sample showed 21 picograms of the drug. The allowable limit in Kentucky is only 10.
Baffert, who has won a record seven Kentucky Derby trophies, was adamant that "We did not cheat to win the Kentucky Derby." He believes the investigation will take months.
"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," Baffert told Fox News. He continued, "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."
In a statement, Churchill Downs suspended Baffert on Sunday from racing at the track. "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 had two high-profile horses test positive a year ago, but had suspensions and sanctions in Arkansas dropped after a court challenge. His 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify, was alleged to have had a positive test for a banned substance, but the state of California did not find Baffert at fault.
Baffert took a shot at testing protocols in horse racing that measures in picograms, which is equal to one-trillionth of a gram. He described the measurement as a grain of salt 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."
Baffert plans to run Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in Saturday's Preakness. Post time is 6:50 p.m.