Alleged habitual cheater Bob Baffert is under fire after his horse, Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, failed a drug test for the steroid betamethasone. Medina Spirit was 12/1 to win the race on May 1.
Despite the initial toxicology findings and the possibility that the horse will be stripped of the roses, bettors will be stuck with losses (or keep the winnings) according to the official results on race day. The first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown was declared official on May 1, and the process of determining what exactly happened to Medina Spirit is expected to take months or even years to play out.
Bettors who didn’t take Medina Spirit are left with just a bad taste in their mouth, especially those who wagered on runner-up Mandaloun at 26/1. Other horses in the race at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Ky., could have been drugged, but they haven’t been caught.
“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.
@ChurchillDowns releases statement on Medina Spirit testing positive. Full release is below, but the part that matters,
“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.” pic.twitter.com/TiUywtZ4rd
— Bryan Kennedy (@BKennedyTV) May 9, 2021
Hall of Fame trainer Baffert, who now has had at least five failed drug tests for his horses over roughly the past year, denies the allegations.
ESPN reported that Medina Spirit as of Monday is still slated to race in the Preakness on Saturday, May 15, but that situation is fluid. Mandaloun is not slated to run in the Preakness.
Millions bet on Mandaloun
Failed drug tests in horse racing aren’t uncommon, but they are for a winner of the sport’s most prestigious race. Medina Spirit’s potential DQ for drugs would be only the second ever for such a reason. The last one came in 1968. Per The New York Times, the case involving Dancer’s Image dragged on for four years.
About $155.4 million was bet on the Kentucky Derby pari-mutuel pool, ESPN reported. An estimated $12 million was bet on Medina Spirit. Bettors had an estimated $3 million-$4 million riding on Mandaloun.
The alleged corruption of the Derby has apparently stirred to life a potential boycott of the sport.
One of the biggest bettors in the sport, who had the second place horse to win, Mandaloun, says everyone should stop giving industry money. https://t.co/mizNsjy2OR
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 9, 2021
The betting public is apparently getting organized to do something about the situation.
Ok this is not a drill people. If you placed a losing wager on Mandaloun or any other combo that COULD be affected by a DQ of Medina – send your name contact info and the bet to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are just getting started. @SwiftHitter
— Michael Beychok (@BeychokRacing) May 9, 2021
Unsurprisingly, the failed drug test appears to have further shaken public confidence in the sport of horse racing. One example is USA Today tweeting: “Did you bet Mandaloun? You may be a winner — but you’re unlikely to be paid because the house always wins.”
Results of a second drug test for Medina Spirit are expected to be released in a few weeks.