Horse racing-Controversial Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit barred from Belmont

FAN Editor
FILE PHOTO: 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
FILE PHOTO: Medina Spirit, ridden by John Velazquez, right, crosses the finish line to win the 147th Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

May 18, 2021

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will not contend in next month’s Belmont Stakes after the New York Racing Association (NYRA) temporarily suspended the horse and its famed trainer, Bob Baffert, on Monday following a failed drug test.

Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance, earlier this month after winning the first of the three legs of horse racing’s Triple Crown series.

The horse came up short at Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, finishing third behind Midnight Bourbon and upset winner Rombauer.

“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” NYRA Chief Executive Dave O’Rourke said in a written statement announcing the suspension.

“That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”

Baffert, one of the most successful and recognizable figures in the sport with a record seven Kentucky Derby wins, said there was “never any attempt to game or cheat the system” in a statement provided to NBC Sports on Saturday.

If the positive test for the anti-inflammatory steroid is confirmed, it would strip Medina Spirit of his Kentucky Derby win.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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