Attorneys for the owner and trainer of Medina Spirit, first-place finisher in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, claim tests conducted by a New York laboratory have “definitively confirmed” the horse tested positive for a corticosteroid not through an injection but because of an ointment used to treat a skin rash.
Craig Robertson, attorney for Bob Baffert, and Clark Brewster, representing owner Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables, said tests conducted by Dr. George Maylin, who heads a drug testing laboratory at New York’s Morrisville State College, showed the presence of betamethasone valerate, which they claim is found in Otomax ointment. Otomax, manufactured to treat ear infections in dogs, lists betamethasone as one of its ingredients. The test, Robertson and Brewster said, also confirmed the absence of betamethasone acetate, the injectable corticosteroid used to treat inflammation.
“In other words,” Robertson said in a statement, “it has now been scientifically proven that what Bob Baffert said from the beginning was true – Medina Spirit was never injected with betamethasone and the findings following the Kentucky Derby were solely the result of the horse being treated for a skin condition by way of a topical ointment – all at the direction of Medina Spirit’s veterinarian.”
The Paulick Report has asked Robertson and Brewster for a full copy of Maylin’s report.
Robertson said the test result “should definitively resolve the matter in Kentucky and Medina Spirit should remain the official winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby.” Brewster had similar sentiments, stating that “Zedan is proud to have stood by Bob and is ecstatic that Medina Spirit will receive the honor of his great victory.”
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and board of stewards have yet to conduct a hearing on Medina Spirit’s failed drug test, and until a hearing is conducted Medina Spirit will remain the Kentucky Derby winner. In the ewake of the failed drug test, Baffert was ruled off all tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. through the conclusion of the 2023 spring-summer meet at the company’s flagship track in Louisville, Ky. Churchill Downs also said horses trained by Baffert are not eligible for qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
A spokesperson for the commission could not be reached for comment on Maylin’s testing, which attorneys for Baffert and Zedan sought through a court order.
The rules of Kentucky racing do not appear to differentiate between administration of betamethasone or other drugs through injection or other means. In section 1 in the regulations relating to medication, testing procedures and prohibited practices, the definition for “administer” states: “to apply to or cause the introduction of a substance into the body of a horse.”
The full statements from Robertson and Brewster follow:
Craig Robertson: The testing of the split urine sample of MEDINA SPIRIT has now been completed by Dr. George Maylin, Director of the New York Drug Testing & Research Program. By Order of the Franklin Circuit Court in Kentucky, this urine was tested “to determine if the alleged topical administration of OTOMAX could have resulted in the finding of betamethasone” in MEDINA SPIRIT following the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Those results have now definitively confirmed that the betamethasone present in MEDINA SPIRIT’s system did indeed come from the topical ointment OTOMAX and not an injection. In other words, it has now been scientifically proven that what Bob Baffert said from the beginning was true – MEDINA SPIRIT was never injected with betamethasone and the findings following the Kentucky Derby were solely the result of the horse being treated for a skin condition by way of a topical ointment – all at the direction of MEDINA SPIRIT’s veterinarian.
The betamethasone in an injection is betamethasone acetate. The betamethasone in the topical ointment is betamethasone valerate. Only betamethasone acetate is addressed and regulated in the rules of racing in Kentucky. Thus, the presence of betamethasone valerate in MEDINA SPIRIT, which resulted from a topical ointment, is not a rules violation. Dr. Maylin’s testing not only confirmed the presence of betamethasone valerate, but also the absence of betamethasone acetate. This should definitively resolve the matter in Kentucky and MEDINA SPIRIT should remain the official winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Since May, Mr. Baffert has been the subject of an unfair rush to judgment. We asked all along that everyone wait until the facts and science came to light. Now that it has been scientifically proven that Mr. Baffert was truthful, did not break any rules of racing, and MEDINA SPIRIT’s victory was due solely to the heart and ability of the horse and nothing else, it is time for all members of racing to come together for the good of the sport. Mr. Baffert has been a tremendous ambassador for the sport throughout his 46 year Hall of Fame career and he has every intention of continuing to do so.
Clark Brewster: As Legal counsel for, and on behalf of, Abr Zedan and Zedan Racing Stable, owner of Medina Spirit, winner of the 147th Kentucky Derby, it is extremely gratifying to learn that the New York Racing Laboratory through its Director Dr George Marlin has scientifically confirmed that no Betamethazone Acetate was found in the post race urine specimen of Medina Spirit. Dr Maylin reported that components of an ointment used to treat a skin lesion was confirmed through metabolite confirmation and that no Acetate that is part of the injectable Betamethazone was present. The Kentucky Racing Commission has steadfastly enacted rules relating to corticosteroid joint injection and have drawn a bright line rule that no injections are permitted within 14 days of a race. Now there is zero doubt that the 14 day rule some thought might have been violated by the earlier less specific testing is revealed as premature judgment. That groundless accusation is without scientific merit.
Zedan is proud to have stood by Bob and is ecstatic that Medina Spirit will receive the honor of his great victory.
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