Medina Spirit officially disqualified from Kentucky Derby

Bob Baffert’s legal team launch immediate appeal as race awarded to Mandaloun

Jockey John Velazquez celebrates after Medina Spirit’s win at the 2021 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Medina Spirit has been officially disqualified from first place in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has announced.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt ran out a half-length winner from Mandaloun at Churchill Downs in May last year, but it emerged a week later he had produced a positive test for the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone, a prohibited substance in Kentucky on raceday.

Baffert has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing and pointed to an anti-fungal ointment prescribed for a case of dermatitis as being to blame.

In a statement posted on the KHRC website, the stewards disqualified Medina Spirit from first place, with all purse money forfeited. Baffert has been suspended for 90 days, beginning on March 8th, and fined $7,500 (€6,630).


Baffert’s legal team immediately indicated the intention to appeal the ruling.

His attorney Craig Robertson told Horse Racing Nation: "I don't think that it is correct. It runs contrary to the facts of this case and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission rules, so we will be immediately appealing."

Medina Spirit ran four more times after the Kentucky Derby, finishing third in the Preakness and runner-up to Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He also won the Grade One Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.

Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Medina Spirit died suddenly after working at Santa Anita in December.

Churchill Downs said in a statement it now recognised the Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun – who runs in the Saudi Cup this weekend – as the winner of the Derby.

A statement read: "Churchill Downs recognises Mandaloun as the winner of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby and extends our congratulations to owner/breeder Juddmonte, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux.

“Winning the Kentucky Derby is one of the most exciting achievements in sports and we look forward to celebrating Mandaloun on a future date in a way that is fitting of this rare distinction.”