Speaking in court Aug. 9 before counsel representing the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the connections of Medina Spirit , a Kentucky judge urged the parties to contact a New York laboratory for a timetable for the completion of testing of the colt’s urine taken after his victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). However, test results are likely “at least several weeks” away, the laboratory’s director later indicated to BloodHorse.
Zedan Racing Stables’ Medina Spirit, the first-place finisher from the May 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, is at risk of disqualification after an initial and follow-up test result indicated the prohibited race-day presence of betamethasone, a corticosteroid. In addition, the colt’s trainer, Bob Baffert, could also be fined and/or suspended.
Counsel for Medina Spirit argues that Medina Spirit’s test results resulted from the treatment of an ointment called Otomax, which contains betamethasone, and not via injection, the customary manner in which horses receive the anti-inflammatory medication.
A split sample of the horse’s urine was sent to New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory July 14, with attorneys associated with Medina Spirit hopeful of confirming the presence of the ingredients in Otomax. Such findings could prove to be exculpatory or mitigating when Kentucky stewards conduct a hearing after testing is complete.
On Monday, Franklin (Ky.) Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate elected not to issue an order but gave instructions to follow up with the laboratory.
“Well, the main thing is we need to get those results so I can remand this to the (Kentucky) Horse Racing Commission, and y’all can fight like cats and dogs down there over there over who is the Derby (winner) and what needs to happen to Mr. Baffert. That’s what needs to happen,” Wingate said.
The New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory is still working on the sample due to specific testing, its director, Dr. George Maylin, explained in a telephone interview with BloodHorse.
Should a disqualification occur, Juddmonte’s Mandaloun , the Derby runner-up, would become the winner and Medina Spirit would be placed last. First place in the Derby is worth $1.86 million, and victory can be worth millions more in potential stud value.
In court on Monday, Jennifer Wolsing, general counsel for the KHRC, and Baffert attorney Craig Robertson, also argued over the testing of an original urine sample. This sample was believed contaminated when an accompanying blood sample spilled upon it when the package carrying the items was damaged in transit. The KHRC points to depleted resources as evidence the sample was tested, though neither has received any results from the New York laboratory.
Last month, the KHRC filed a motion alleging violations of procedures and seeking disclosure of results.
“The racing commission wants transparency regarding the results of this testing, and why the court’s order was violated,” Wolsing told Wingate Monday.
Robertson responded to Wingate that the KHRC motion was “much ado about nothing.” He noted that he did not have any test results and would only receive them when the KHRC does.
Wingate appeared more focused on pinning down a date for receiving results.
Maylin did not participate via video conference in Monday’s hearing. Speaking with BloodHorse after the hearing, he said a date for completion “is not cut in stone.”
“It will be at least several weeks. We’re still acquiring some analytical standards to be acquired,” Maylin said. “The judge ordered incontrovertible evidence, which means it is a full-blown research project.”
He said the testing for ingredients specific to Otomax complicates procedures and “is the delay, right there.”
“All the results we have will be put together in one package,” he said in reference to the original and split samples in New York.