HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, June 9, 2021 – As is often the case in the world of entitlement, trainer Bob Baffert and owner Amr Zedan are making the findings and confirmation of an illegal substance in Kentucky Derby victor Medina Spirit not about the findings but about the standard being used.
It appears that when credulity is seriously challenged in the court of public opinion, defense counsel makes alleged transgressions all about process. We may be looking at the racing industry’s version of the JAN 6 Tourist Defense: Simply avert your eyes and ignore the facts whenever possible.
The Medina Spirit defense team has filed a civil suit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in Franklin Circuit Court demanding that more tests* of post-race samples need be taken in order to achieve the desired result.
In legalese, they are seeking injunctive relief from laboratory findings they claim violate their clients’ due process rights.
Never mind “consciousness of guilt,” Baffert’s breaking with protocol by proclaiming his innocence before regulators announced their findings, followed by his “cancel culture” defense, before walking that back to admit that corticosteroid betamethasone was present within a topical ointment, Otomax, but that he had no knowledge of it being an active ingredient.
In the balance lies a KHRC stewards’ ruling that could lead to the first Kentucky Derby positive finding since Dancer’s Image phenylbutazone positive led to his 1968 Derby victory being nullified.
Along with a potential disqualification looms the possibility of an official state suspension or license revocation–which would be recognized in other racing jurisdictions–and possible significant fines. The international racing community will be watching with interest.
In acknowledging the confirmed sample, the owner and trainer announced their attorneys will call for further testing, the basis of their defense being that the rule’s language is too vague because it does not delineate between a topical application and an injectable substance.
The question most reasonable people are asking is: What’s the difference? If the rule is zero tolerance, does it matter how the substance got there? Apparently, the defense thinks so. And given his history, it’s unlikely that Baffert would play the contamination card again.
Split samples are done to confirm the presence of detected substances within the same medium, whether that be urine or blood. The attorneys are insisting that both amalgams be tested; arguing that some other agent may have contributed to the findings also allege that testing samples may have been damaged in handling.
Was it one of the other compounds, or some derivative of betamethasone present in the ointment responsible for the drug positive? At this stage, the KHRC is arguing that additional testing is excessive, outside the bounds of routine procedure.
Kentucky regulations do exempt the use of topicals under proper supervision, but those ointments cannot contain substances that are otherwise prohibited. Thus far, the KHRC has failed to respond to the suit.
Sounds like this case could last for a very long time; justice delayed.
*Kentucky Circuit Court ruled on Friday, June 11, that the Baffert defense team will be allowed to conduct further testing on urine samples, as opposed to the blood samples that produced the initial positive betamethasone findings