The trainer and owner of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit filed suit Monday, asking a judge to order racing officials to conduct more testing before possibly stripping the colt of its “Run for the Rose” title.
In a civil action filed in Franklin Circuit Court by Bob Baffert and Zedan Racing Stables, they asked for a temporary injunction against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from taking action against their horse until additional tests can be run.
Medina Spirit was found to have the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone in its system on May 1, when the colt was first to cross the Kentucky Derby finish line.
The medication is common in horse racing, but under state guidelines has to be administered several days ahead of the race and be out of the animal’s system when it runs. It’s feared that overuse of that drug could mask injuries and lead to a catastrophic breakdown.
But in Medina Spirit’s case, Baffert said, the colt accidentally received betamethasone when it was treated with Otomax, an ointment used for skin irritation which incidentally contains that steroid.
Baffert’s team is demanding the racing commission test samples, drawn from Medina Spirit, for Otomax.
If the horse can be shown to have had Otomax in its system that day, the plaintiffs claim that’ll prove the colt’s team didn’t knowingly violate the spirit of regulations.
“The manner in which the betamethasone found its way into Medina Spirit is critical,” according to the complaint. “There is a huge difference in a betamethasone finding due to an interarticular joint injection versus one from a topical ointment — from both a regulatory and public relations standpoint.”
A spokeswoman for the racing commission declined comment on Tuesday.
A leading equine veterinarian, Mary Scollay, executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, said she’s not sure the presence of Otomax would completely clear the horse.
“Doesn’t prove Otomax was the sole source of exposure,” she said. “Stewards consider mitigating and aggravating circumstances. Not sure how they’d interpret the Otomax.”
Baffert has been suspended for two years from Churchill Downs and Medina Spirit’s Derby win is under scrutiny and could still be disqualified.