Horse racing: Ointment could explain Medina Spirit positive test - Baffert

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FILE PHOTO: Horse Racing: 147th Kentucky Derby

(Reuters) - Trainer Bob Baffert said on Tuesday that an anti-fungal ointment to treat dermatitis could be the source of Kentucky Derby-winning horse Medina Spirit's positive test for betamethasone.

Baffert, who won a record seventh Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit on May 1, said the horse developed dermatitis on his hind end after the Santa Anita Derby in April and his veterinarian recommended daily use of Otomax to prevent it from spreading.

"I have been told by equine pharmacology experts that this could explain the test results," Hall of Fame trainer Baffert said in a statement. "As such, I wanted to be forthright about this fact as soon as I learned of this information."

Medina Spirit's post-race sample after the Kentucky Derby tested positive for 21 picograms of anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone, over the legal limit in Kentucky racing, and Baffert was suspended from racing at Churchill Downs.

The racetrack also said if a second round of testing shows the presence of betamethasone Medina Spirit will be disqualified and runner-up Mandaloun will be declared the winner.

The dark bay colt is scheduled to run in the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of U.S. thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Baffert also said pharmacologists have told him 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby and that Medina Spirit is a deserved champion.

"As I have stated, my investigation is continuing and we do not know for sure if this ointment was the cause of the test results, or if the test results are even accurate, as they have yet to be confirmed by the split sample," said Baffert.

"However, again, I have been told that a finding of a small amount, such as 21 picograms, could be consistent with application of this type of ointment. I intend to continue to investigate and I will continue to be transparent."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)