Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's failed drug test is confirmed

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John Velazquez guides Medina Spirit to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Jamie Rhodes | USA TODAY Sports | Reuters

A second test of blood from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit has confirmed the presence of the banned steroid betamethasone, a lawyer for the horse’s owner told CNBC on Wednesday.

The second positive test increases the risk that Medina Spirit’s victory on May 1 will be overturned by Kentucky racing officials.

Clark Brewster, the attorney for the horse’s owner Arm Zedan, said that officials are allowing the Medina Spirit team to have another lab analyze a third sample from the horse to determine whether there are chemicals that would support the claim by trainer Bob Baffert that the betamethasone came from an antifungal ointment, and not an injection.

If the third test gives that result, Brewster could use it to argue against Medina Spirit being disqualified from the Derby, which is the first jewel in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

The attorney also might challenge the accuracy and protocol of the first official test, and the second analysis of blood, known as a split sample.

Brewster said that if a horse fails a first drug test, a trainer normally has the option of “sending the B sample” for analysis at a selected lab for a second, confirmatory test.

For Medina Spirit’s B-Sample, Brewster said, the horse’s team “requested both the blood and urine to be sent to” such a lab.

Trainer Bob Baffert of Medina Spirit, raises the trophy after winning the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit, his seventh career Kentucky Derby win, at Churchill Downs on May 01, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

The attorney said that if both substances were tested, it could detect the presence of chemical components that would indicate whether betamethasone came from the ointment.

“But they [racing officials] refused to send” the urine, Brewster said. “They only sent the blood.”

The lawyer said that on Monday or Tuesday, Medina Spirit’s team was informed they lab “found betamethasone” in the split sample.

Brewster said the lab did not release the level of that steroid found in the blood, “but they said it’s there.”

“They estimated it was 25 picograms,” he said.

A picogram is a trillionth of a gram.

Brewster later issued a formal statement on the issue.

“In response to the inquiries, this will acknowledge that the Medina Spirit split sample confirmed the finding of betamethasone at 25 picograms,” Brewster said.

” There is other testing that is being conducted, including DNA testing,” the attorney said.

” We expect this additional testing to confirm that the presence of the betamethasone was from the topical ointment, Otomax, and not an injection,” Brewster said.

“At the end of the day, we anticipate this case to be about the treatment of Medina Spirit’s skin rash with Otomax.  We will have nothing further to say until the additional testing is complete.”

Kristin Voskuhl, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said in a statement that the commission “does not provide comment or updates on the status of ongoing investigations.”

“The KHRC values fairness and transparency, and will provide information to the media and public at the close of an investigation,” Voskuhl said.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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