Bob Baffert Now Says Horse Used Ointment Containing Banned Substance

ARCADIA, CA - APR 4: Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert is interviewed at Santa Anita Park April 4, 2009 in Arcadia, CA. Baffert was elected to the Racing Hall of Fame on April 20th.

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Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is changing his tune about Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s positive drug test following the race.

After initially blaming “cancel culture” and urine-tainted hay for the positive test, Baffert’s legal counsel has admitted the horse was using an ointment containing the banned substance betamethasone.

The substance was in the anti-fungal ointment Otomax.

“Following the Santa Anita Derby, Medina Spirit developed dermatitis on his hind end. I had him checked out by my veterinarian who recommended the use of an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax,” he said in a statement.

“The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis, and prevent it from spreading. My barn followed this recommendation and Medina Spirit was treated with Otomax once a day up until the day before the Kentucky Derby. Yesterday, I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax is betamethasone.”

Baffert did leave some wiggle room, however, saying that his team does not know “definitively” if the ointment is the drug and that the ointment would not have had any impact on the result of the race.

“As I have stated, 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,” he continued. “However, again, 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. I intend to continue to investigate and I will continue to be transparent.

“In the meantime, I want to reiterate two points I made when this matter initially came to light. First, I had no knowledge of how betamethasone could have possibly found its way into Medina Spirit (until now) and this has never been a case of attempting to game the system or get an unfair advantage. Second, horse racing must address its regulatory problem when it comes to substances which can innocuously find their way into a horse’s system at the picogram (which is a trillionth of a gram) level. Medina Spirit earned his Kentucky Derby win and my pharmacologists have told me that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the outcome of the race. Medina Spirit is a deserved champion and I will continue to fight for him.”

There is still no word on whether Medina Spirit will be able to compete in this weekend’s Preakness Stakes.

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