UPDATE: Trainer Bob Baffert has been been indefinitely suspended from Churchill Downs following news that 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a drug test. What follows is the original report.
News came down the wire today that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a drug test and could be stripped of the title depending on how a second sample and potential appeal unfold. However, the colt's trainer, Bob Baffert, has a sordid history in the performance-enhancing drug department that doesn't bode well for his latest winner.
Over the last 40 years, Baffert's horses have failed 30 drug tests. Over the last two years, his horses have failed five drug tests. In last year's Kentucky Oaks, a race for three-year-old fillies conducted the day before the Derby, a horse Baffert trained named Gamine failed a drug test for having betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory, in her system. That's the same drug found in Medina Spirit.
For his part, Baffert has denied giving Medina Spirit betamethasone. The results of Medina Spirit's split sample are also still pending. If that test also comes back positive, Baffert can appeal the ruling. Then again, Baffert has consistently denied wrongdoing in the past too, usually blaming test contamination and human error. However, when you have a few dozen failed positives, benefit of the doubt is not on your side.
Baffert has won seven Kentucky Derby races as a trainer. He's the most recognizable face in the sport by a wide margin. That's what makes this all the more distressing.
If LeBron James or Mike Trout or the face of any league consistently failed drug tests, their character would be questioned and their place in the sport would be too. It should be no different for a trainer, especially one of Baffert's stature.
We'll see what the second test result says, but history isn't on Baffert's side.