Bob Baffert, Medina Spirit Trainer, Admits Using Betamethasone Ointment on Horse for 'Dermatitis'

Bob Baffert, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, said on Tuesday that he used an ointment that contained betamethasone on the horse to treat "dermatitis."

"Following the Santa Anita Derby, Medina Spirit developed dermatitis on his hind end. I had him checked out by my veterinarian who recommended the use of an anti-fungal ointment called Otomax," Baffert wrote in a statement. "The veterinary recommendation was to apply this ointment daily to give the horse relief, help heal the dermatitis, and prevent it from spreading. My barn followed this recommendation and MEDINA SPIRIT was treated with Otomax once a day up until the day before the Kentucky Derby."

The statement continued, "Yesterday, I was informed that one of the substances in Otomax is betamethasone. While we do not know definitively that this was the source of the alleged 21 picograms found in Medina Spirit's post-race blood sample, and our investigation is containing, I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results."

Baffert's attorney, Craig Robertson, directed Newsweek to the statement issued on Tuesday after reaching out for comment.

The statement issued by Baffert comes shortly after he announced that Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammation corticosteroid used to treat pain and swelling, following his victory in the May 1 Derby. The positive test detected 21 picograms of betamethasone, more than double the legal limit allowed in Kentucky horse racing.

"Yesterday, I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something that I didn't do," Baffert said on Sunday while announcing the positive test. "I don't feel embarrassed, I feel like I was wronged. But I'm going to fight it."

Shortly after Baffert's announcement of the positive test, Churchill Downs, the hosting venue of the Kentucky Derby, issued a statement announcing an immediate suspension of Baffert and said that if the betamethasone is detected in a second drug test, Medina Spirit's results in the race will be "invalidated."

"Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack. We will await the conclusion of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's investigation before taking further steps," the statement said.

In response to the suspension, Baffert appeared on Fox News and called the statement from Churchill Downs "harsh" and suggested that the controversy surrounding Medina Spirit was due to "cancel culture."

Bob Baffert
Bob Baffert, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, said on Tuesday that he used an ointment that contained betamethasone on the horse to treat "dermatitis." Above, Baffert talks to the media during training for the Derby at Churchill Downs on April 29, 2021, in Louisville, Kentucky. Andy Lyons/Getty

"We did not cheat to win the Kentucky Derby....It did not happen. That's the really seriously troubling part of it," Baffert said during the interview with Fox News. "With all the noise going on right now, we live in a different world now. This America's different, and it was a cancel culture kind of thing."

While Baffert has continued to say that he plans to race Medina Spirit in the upcoming May 15 Preakness Stakes, the second race in the Triple Crown series, the Maryland Jockey Club (the company that owns the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore where the Preakness is held), issued a statement on Sunday: "We are consulting with the Maryland Racing Commission and any decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the 146th Preakness Stakes will be made after review of the facts."

The drawing for the Preakness Stakes was scheduled to take place on Monday, but following the news of Medina Spirit's positive test, the drawing was rescheduled to Tuesday.

Newsweek reached out to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Maryland Jockey Club for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.