Like Medina Spirit, Mandaloun is a 3-year-old colt. The two were separated by half a length at the Derby finish line on May 1.
A blood sample taken after the race found Medina Spirit had a higher dosage of Betamethasone in its system than allowed by Kentucky racing regulations. Betamethasone is an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid sometimes used to relieve joint pain in horses.
Medina Spirit’s trainer Bob Baffert says the drug has never been given to Medina Spirit and he’s investigating how it ended up in the postrace blood sample.
A split sample from Medina Spirit will be retested and if the original results are confirmed, the horse’s win will be stripped and Mandaloun will be crowned the Derby winner, Churchill Downs said in a statement Sunday.
If that happens, it will be Mandaloun’s fourth first-place finish, according to horseracing.com.
If Mandaloun is named the winner, it will be just the third time in the Derby’s 147-year history that a second-place horse was named the winner.
The first time was in 1968 when Dancer’s Image won but failed a postrace drug test and was disqualified. The second instance happened in 2019, when it was determined Maximum Security interfered with other horses during the race and longshot Country House was named the winner.
What about the money?
A lot of money usually changes hands when a horse crosses a finish line, especially when that finish line is at the Kentucky Derby.
Medina Spirit’s owners pocketed $1.86 million with the first-place Derby finish. If the win ends up being overturned, that money will instead go to Mandaloun’s owners.
Baffert will have an opportunity to appeal if Medina Spirit is disqualified, so it’s not clear when any final decision will be made.
As for the spectators who placed bets on the race, it seems like not a lot will change, even if you put your money on Mandaloun.
Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations say payouts are based on “the order of finish as declared ‘official’ by the stewards or judges.”
“A subsequent change in the order of finish or award of purse money that may result from a subsequent ruling by the stewards, judges, or commission shall not affect the pari-mutuel payout.”
Organizers for next weekend’s Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, said they will review the facts surrounding Medina Spirit’s case and consult with the Maryland Racing Commission on any decision regarding the horse’s entry in the race.
Mandaloun won’t make an appearance at the Preakness, Cox, his trainer, told a National Thoroughbred Racing Association teleconference Thursday, saying it was too tight a turnaround, according to horseracing.com.