Trainer Bob Baffert released a statement confirming that Medina Spirit had been treated with an ointment unknowingly containing the steroid betamethasone.
Baffert said Medina Spirit was treated for dermatitis with the ointment once a day leading up to the May 1 race, and equine pharmacology experts have told him this could explain the test results.
Baffert said the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the substance, which is typically given to horses therapeutically to help their joints and is a violation even at a trace amount on race day in Kentucky.
“Yesterday, I was informed that one of the substances in [the ointment] Otomax is betamethasone. While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit’s post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results,” Baffert said in the statement.
“As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information. As I have stated, my investigation is continuing and we do not know for sure if this ointment was the cause of the test results or if the test results are even accurate, as they have yet to be confirmed by the split sample. However, again, I have been told that a finding of a small amount, such as 21 picograms, could be consistent with the application of this type of ointment.
“I intend to continue to investigate and I will continue to be transparent. In the meantime, I want to reiterate two points I made when this matter initially came to light. First, I had no knowledge of how betamethasone could have possibly found its way into Medina Spirit (until now), and this has never been a case of attempting to game the system or get an unfair advantage. Second, horse racing must address its regulatory problem when it comes to substances that can innocuously find their way into a horse’s system at the picogram (which is a trillionth of a gram) level. Medina Spirit earned his Kentucky Derby win, and my pharmacologists have told me that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the outcome of the race.
“Medina Spirit is a deserved champion and I will continue to fight for him.”
Preakness officials said Tuesday that they are allowing Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit to enter Saturday’s race, subject to additional testing and monitoring after the colt’s failed drug test after the Derby.
The race can be heard on WSLM 97.9 FM beginning at 5p Saturday.