June 23, 2024

Medina Spirit disqualified from Kentucky Derby win

Medina Spirit (right), Mandaloun (center), and Hot Rod Charlie (left) at the finish of the 2021 Kentucky Derby (Churchill Downs/Coady Photography)

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards issued a ruling Monday disqualifying Medina Spirit from his 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1) win, on account of his testing positive for betamethasone.

The stewards suspended trainer Bob Baffert for 90 days, from Mar. 8 through June 5, and fined him $7,500. The penalty reflected the fact that this was Baffert’s “fourth medication violation in the past 365 days in any racing jurisdiction.” According to published reports, Baffert will appeal the suspension.

The amended Kentucky Derby result demotes Medina Spirit to last in the 19-horse field, and each of his 18 rivals moves up one placing. Thus Mandaloun is elevated as the official winner, Hot Rod Charlie is promoted to second, and Essential Quality advances to third. The ruling does not affect pari-mutuel wagering, in accordance with Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations.

Medina Spirit is the second Kentucky Derby winner to be disqualified for a positive postrace test, following Dancer’s Image (1968).

Upon news of the stewards’ action, Churchill Downs offered the following statement:

“Today Churchill Downs recognizes Mandaloun as the winner of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby and extends our congratulations to owner/breeder Juddmonte, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux. Winning the Kentucky Derby is one of the most exciting achievements in sports and we look forward to celebrating Mandaloun on a future date in a way that is fitting of this rare distinction.”

Mandaloun is currently in Saudi Arabia preparing for Saturday’s $20 million Saudi Cup (G1). That was also slated to be the main goal for Medina Spirit, who sadly died following a workout at his Santa Anita base Dec. 6.

Baffert has been barred by Churchill Downs Inc. since June 2, 2021, for a period of two years, through the entire 2023 spring meet at Churchill. As a result, his horses have been ineligible to earn points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.