Medina Spirit’s breeder staying positive amid drug flap

Home » Equine
Posted May 10, 2021 | By Carlos Medina,

Medina Spirit wins the Kentucky Derby on May 1, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The colt, bred in Marion County by Gail Rice, failed a drug test after the race. [Coady Photography]

Gail Rice is staying positive and praying.

A day after news broke that Medina Spirit, the Kentucky Derby-winning colt that Rice bred in Marion County, failed a drug test, she expressed confidence in Bob Baffert, the horse’s trainer.

“Bob is a good horseman. The owner is standing behind him, and so am I. I feel like we don’t need to pass judgment,” she said.

Baffert, on Sunday, denied ever treating the colt with betamethasone, a topical steroid used to reduce inflammation. The colt had more than the allowable level of the steroid in his system, according to a post-race test.

While the drug is not on the banned list, the violation could mean disqualification for Medina Spirit.

“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,” Churchill Downs officials said in a statement.

Baffert was already suspended by Churchill Downs, pending the results of a second sample.

“If he says he never gave the horse the medication, then I believe Bob. I’m willing to go to bat for him,” said Rice, who just days ago was celebrating the biggest win in her career.

Meanwhile, his connections still plan on running Medina Spirit in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Baffert will not be there because of the suspension, but Rice plans to attend.

“The horse can win the Preakness,” she said. “He can win at (Belmont) too.”

Belmont Park is the site of the third jewel of the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes is set for June 20.

At Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, the site of the Preakness, the issue already affected the schedule ahead of the race. The post-position draw, where the horses entered in the race are assigned their starting spots, was postponed on Monday. Officials said they were reviewing the situation, and “any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts.”


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