Trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended from Churchill Downs for two years following a confirmed positive drug test from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.
Churchill Downs, which hosts the annual horse race in Louisville, said in a press release that Baffert’s suspension will take effect immediately and last through its 2023 spring meet.
The suspension prohibits Baffert, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by his racing stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all Churchill Downs racetracks.
In its statement, Churchill Downs said attorneys representing Baffert confirmed the presence of betamethasone in the winning horse’s bloodstream on the day of the derby, which violates Kentucky’s equine medication protocols and the organization’s terms and conditions for racing.
Churchill Downs also said it reserves the right to extend Baffert’s suspension if there are additional violations in any racing jurisdiction.
The first positive drug test for an illegal substance came following last month's race. The second test, taken at the request of trainer Bob Baffert, means the horse is a step closer to becoming just the second Derby winner to later be disqualified in the race's 147-year history.
Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby on May 1 by a half-length over Mandaloun. Medina Spirit's win marked a record seventh Derby win for Baffert.
However, a post-race drug test showed that the horse tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance. Following the positive test, Churchill Downs suspended Baffert from racing horses at the track.
Baffert claims that Medina Spirit had been treated with Otomax earlier this year for a case of dermatitis. He said the vet that applied the ointment was unaware that betamethasone was an active ingredient in the medication.
The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer's Image in 1968, the Associated Press reports.
According to the AP, Medina Spirit is Baffert's fifth horse to fail a drug test in the past year. Several racing commissions, including the Arkansas Racing Commission, have penalized Baffert in recent months following positive drug tests.
Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness Stakes last month, ending his Triple Crown bid. In mid-May, the New York Racing Association suspended Baffert from entering horses at Belmont Park, meaning the horse could not compete at the upcoming Belmont Stakes.