Irwin: Medina Spirit Positive Test A Shot Heard ‘Round The World

What’s the deal with Bob Baffert and his rash of positives over the past year or so, during which time he has run afoul of the rules on five occasions?

Is Bob just unlucky? Is he running a sloppy shop? Are his vets dropping the ball on his behalf? Are the racetracks, racing regulators or racing associations somehow out to get him? Is he a victim of some sort of foul play?

Or, as the subject himself said after he announced over the weekend that his Kentucky Derby winner has tested positive for betamethasone (now where have we heard the name of that drug before, hmmm?), “…there’s definitely something wrong. Why is it happening to me?”

Although lacking first-hand knowledge, experienced horsemen and vets with whom I have spoken ever since the betamethasone overage was revealed, to a man believe that the positive finding is a result of Baffert’s Derby winner being injected in a joint (ankle or hock) too close to Kentucky Derby Day.

The vets’ conjecture is that Baffert took a chance that the unpredictable and unreliable nature of the drug used would not rear its ugly head before the race and hopefully go undetected in the post-race analysis. They say that even if the withdrawal time is closely adhered to and even if a few extra days are tacked on, betamethasone reacts differently in every horse based on the make-up of its bodily systems. In other words, the recommended withdrawal times are best guesses and not carved in stone.

So, these vets believe, Baffert may have just taken a shot.

Or Baffert, in his arrogance, may have figured that even if a trace showed up it just might be ignored, because after all it was the Derby, and popular myth says that anything goes in the Derby.

Arrogance in the case of Baffert is completely understandable. Why wouldn’t he be arrogant? He keeps getting in trouble and he keeps escaping unscathed. When this happens time after time after time after time, the escapee tends to become a bit unwary of possible pitfalls that might stand in his way. He becomes emboldened.

Within days after Baffert had basically skated from his two lidocaine positives in Arkansas, an emboldened Baffert (opined the experts) may have had betamethasone injected into a joint of Medina Spirit.

If Baffert, or Baffert at his direction to his vet, did in fact order the injection, he took a risk not just for himself and the horse’s owner, but this time for the well being of the entire Thoroughbred industry. Now that would be total arrogance, because today there is not a major news outlet that did not cover Baffert’s Derby positive in the shot heard ’round the world.

The arrogance required for such an act can come from one who feels that the rules do not apply to him.

Seemingly forever in Thoroughbred racing the phrase “nobody is bigger than the game” has been axiomatic. Well, I humbly submit to the readers that Baffert not only thinks he is bigger than the game, the ruling in Arkansas more of less proved it to be true.

Now, all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, Churchill Downs racetrack—an outfit known forever as an entity that would do and say anything to protect the sanctity and history of The Derby — has stepped up and closed its entry box to Bob Baffert until the current mess can be straightened out.

As excited as I am about the impending seating of the board and standing committees of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority in advance of getting it up and running next summer, this advent of Churchill Downs taking responsibility in the aftermath of the Derby positive is just as riveting and exciting. I for one look forward to following the Baffert positive in the days, weeks, months and, likely, years to come, as Baffert will no doubt once again fail to take responsibility for his own actions and place the entire industry in peril.

Barry Irwin is the founder and CEO of Team Valor International

The post Irwin: Medina Spirit Positive Test A Shot Heard ‘Round The World appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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