Dermatitis Ointment Caused Positive Drug Test, Baffert Says

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Cancel culture was not responsible for the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s positive drug test. Nor was contamination responsible, or a conspiracy at work. No, his trainer, Bob Baffert, said Tuesday, the colt was being treated for dermatitis with an ointment that contained the drug in question.

“I had him checked out by my veterinarian who recommended the use of an antifungal ointment called Otomax,” Baffert said in a statement. At a veterinarian’s recommendation, the ointment was applied daily to Medina Spirit’s hind end to heal the dermatitis, the statement said.

“Yesterday, I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax is betamethasone,” Baffert said in the statement. He added, “I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information.”

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Medina Spirit, who went off at 12-to-1 odds, won the Derby on May 1, giving Baffert his seventh victory in America’s greatest race, a record. On Sunday, however, he announced that his colt had tested positive for betamethasone, a corticosteroid injected into joints to reduce pain and swelling.

If a second sample, collected at the same time as the first, confirms the result in a test expected in the coming weeks, Medina Spirit will be disqualified and the Derby’s runner-up, Mandaloun, will be declared the winner, said officials at Churchill Downs, the racetrack in Louisville, Ky. They also barred Baffert from entering horses to run at Churchill Downs.

In a series of television and radio interviews on Monday, Baffert offered various theories about how the colt had tested positive. He criticized Churchill Downs’s suspension of him as “harsh” and cited “cancel culture” for the controversy.

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“I would never risk my reputation,” he said. “I train great horses, and I train for great clients. This just doesn’t make sense.”

The draw for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, which was to be held Monday, was rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon instead. Baffert has said he will enter Medina Spirit in the race, the second leg in horse racing’s Triple Crown.

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