The Denver Post

Baffert: Antifungal ointment had steroid

- By Stephen Whyno

BALTIMORE» Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit was treated with an antifungal ointment containing the steroid betamethas­one that may have caused the horse to fail a postrace drug test, trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday.

In a statement issued by his lawyer, Baffert said Medina Spirit was treated for dermatitis with the ointment once a day leading up to the May 1 race and that 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.

Regardless of the reason, Medina Spirit would be disqualifi­ed from the Derby and Mandaloun named the winner if a second round of testing shows the presence of betamethas­one.

Preakness officials said Medina Spirit and Baffert’s other horses running at Pimlico Race Course this weekend will be allowed to enter the race, subject to additional testing and monitoring.

“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,” Baffert said. “I have been told that a finding of a small amount, such as 21 picograms, could be consistent with applicatio­n of this type of ointment.”

Baffert said at a news conference Sunday at Churchill Downs that he did not know how the substance made its way into the colt’s system.

Dr. Mary Scollay, executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium, was surprised the situation went from no explanatio­n to “documented, chronic exposure to the medication.”

“We know that the horse was exposed — deliberate­ly exposed — on a daily basis to betamethas­one,” Scollay said Tuesday via phone. “So, yes, it is not implausibl­e that this is the source of the betamethas­one in the horse.”

Medina Spirit and stablemate Concert Tour arrived at Pimlico Race Course on Monday and jogged on the track Tuesday morning, though Baffert does not plan to be in Baltimore for the race and put assistant Jimmy Barnes in charge.

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