Baffert Admits Medina Spirit Was Treated With Ointment Containing Betamethasone

Baffert Admits Medina Spirit Was Treated With Ointment Containing Betamethasone medina spirit crosses the finish line first at churchill downs in the kentucky derby (Scott Serio/AP)

By Brian Freeman | Tuesday, 11 May 2021 02:32 PM

After initially denying his horse was doped, trainer Bob Baffert released a statement Tuesday acknowledging Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit was treated with an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax, which includes betamethasone.

It was announced Saturday that Medina Spirit failed a drug test, and if another sample comes back positive, the horse would be stripped of the title of the May 1 race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Newsweek reported.

The next day, Baffert said the accusations were an "injustice to the horse. I don't feel embarrassed, I feel like I was wronged. But I'm going to fight it."

But in his statement Tuesday, Baffert explained: "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. The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis, and prevent it from spreading."

Baffert continued, "My barn followed this recommendation and Medina Spirit was treated with Otomax once a day up until the day before the Kentucky Derby. [On Monday] I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax is betamethasone. While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit's post-race blood sample, and our investigation is continuing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results. As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information."

He emphasized, "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, [but] I intend to continue to investigate, and I will continue to be transparent."

Betamethasone is a drug that can be legally used, but is not allowed to be found in the blood on the day of the race, according to The Courier-Journal in Louisville.

The result of the second test is not expected to be ready for several weeks.

Baffert said he still plans to run Medina Spirit in the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday.