Buffert, who celebrated a record seventh derby win, reported the test positive at a press conference Sunday at Churchill Downs Racecourse in Louisville, Kentucky. He denied any wrongdoing and pointed out that the horse had never knowingly been treated with betamethasone, a steroid for which it tested positive.
“I got the biggest punch in the gut in racing for something I didn’t do,” Buffert said.
If Medina Spirit fails the second test on a second sample, also collected during the race, the horse will be disqualified from the derby and its $ 1.86 million winnings will be void. Buffert will have a chance to appeal this case, which could take months to resolve.
Following this news, the Churchill Downs – the site of the Kentucky derby – banned Buffert from allowing horses to enter the racetrack anyway.
“Failure to follow drug rules and protocols jeopardizes the safety of horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky derby,” Churchill Downs said in a statement. “We will await the completion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission investigation before taking further steps.“
In 2018, Justify – another Buffert-trained horse – became only the second Triple Crown in four decades. The most prestigious achievement in horse racing is the Triple Crown, awarded to horses that have won three of the most outstanding races in the sport: Kentucky Derby, Preakness Betting, and Belmont Betting.
However, according to a New York Times report, he failed a drug test a couple of weeks before his first Triple Crown race, which, if revealed, would have disqualified him from the race.
The horse breeding rights were reportedly sold for $ 60 million.
Last month, Buffert won an appeal to the Arkansas Race Commission, which issued a 15-day suspension for two positive drug tests involving his horses in May 2020. He said the horses were accidentally exposed to the pain relieving lidocaine.
Another Buffert-trained horse, Gamina, tested positive for betamethasone in October.
If Medina Spirit is disqualified, he will become only the second horse in Kentucky derby history to be dethroned due to drug abuse. In 1968, Image of the Dancer was disqualified for using phenylbutazone, a pain reliever that can now be used while racing.
For now, Medina Spirit still wants to race in Preakness on Saturday as he chases Buffert’s record third Triple Crown win.
At Sunday’s press conference announcing a positive drug test, Buffert said he was worried about the racing state.
“There are problems in racing,” he said, “but this is not Bob Buffet.”