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Bob Baffert claims Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is victim of "cancel culture"

Update: Later in the day, trainer Bob Baffert acknowledged his horse Medina Spirit was treated with an ointment containing a steroid in the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Read more hereThe earlier story is below.


Baltimore — Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is already at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore for the next leg in this year's Triple Crown. But the horse's future, as well as that of trainer Bob Baffert, remains in limbo.

The celebration of Baffert's record-setting seventh Derby win lasted one week. Racing officials notified him that Medina Spirit tested positive for Betamethasone, a steroid used to treat inflammation but banned on race day. 

The horse racing world is anxiously awaiting the second round of test results, which will be performed at a different lab. If a second test is positive, Medina Spirit could be stripped of his Derby crown and the $1.8 million purse that came with it. The horse would then become just the second Derby winner to be disqualified over medication. 

Baffert denies that the horse has ever been treated with the particular drug. "He's never been treated, and that's the scary part," he said. 

Bob Baffert
Bob Baffert after Medina Spirit won the 147th Running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville on May 1, 2021.  Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty

Baffert claimed Monday that the horse is a victim of "cancel culture" and that the test sample or the horse itself could have been easily contaminated. "They can lick a wall, they can do it just so easy now that when they're testing at these levels, it's ridiculous," he said. 

But his horses have been flagged with at least 30 medication violations over his four-decade career. Five of those were in the last year. Though some were overturned on appeal. 

"How do you overcome the perception that Bob Baffert cheats?" CBS News asked. 

"Unfortunately, when you keep winning and they're testing and it's one of those things where we just work hard," Baffert said. 

If the second test results aren't back in time for Saturday's race at Pimlico, racecourse officials will decide if Medina Spirit can participate. If the horse is blocked, Baffert's attorney told CBS News he'll likely file a temporary restraining order, forcing the matter into a courtroom. 

Racing expert Ray Paulick expects Baffert's reputation will be stained from the controversy. "The bottom line for Bob Baffert is he's very likely going to lose a Kentucky Derby and that his name will be tarnished not just now, but into the future," he said. 

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