Kentuck Derby: Results Are Final, Even If Medina Spirit Cheated

Cheaters never prosper, unless their owners bet a bundle on them.

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Medina Spirit, Kentucky Derby 2021

To avoid any confusion, the folks who run the Kentucky Derby are being extra clear: even if winning horse Medina Spirit is disqualified for illegal steroid use, the betting results do not change. The winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby tested positive for the banned steroidal substance, betamethasone, following the race.

A second, confirmation test is due before any final disqualification is announced, but Medina’s trainer Bob Baffert has already conceded there may have been betamethasone in a dermatitis ointment rubbed on the horse for a skin problem. Of course, nobody can really explain why the world’s best and most diligent horse keepers wouldn’t know a banned substance was in the skincare balm, but that’s beside the point. The DQ will stand regardless after the second blood test.

Medina Spirit covered the 1 mile in 2:01.02 and paid $26.20, $12 and $7.60.

Like all states with horse racing, laws in place hold firm racetrack results once officially posted regardless of post-race disqualifications or even uncovered human errors in properly ranking the finishers. While historical records will be changed, as in this case where second-place finisher Mandaloun will go down in the books as the winner should Medina Spirit’s win be tossed, gamblers who bet on Medina will still be owed their proper payout.

That seems somewhat unfair until you consider the practical realities of trying to modify betting results after the fact. Chaos. And the one thing you can’t have in the gambling world is confusion or gray areas in payouts. Imagine that email: can you please return your gambling winnings because Baffert rubbed an illicit ointment on his horse. The success rate would be tremendously low. Long ago the horse racing powers-that-be decided better to be wrong than to be opening up the books. The legislators of each horse racing street put this into law.

Before any outraged cry, understand that thousand of games in all sports have been affected through the years by PED use and the results are never overturned. Barry Bonds may have an asterisk next to his personal records, but not a single game he played in with his newfound hat size was ever changed after the fact.

There have been instances in sports where teams found to have cheated brazenly were stripped of titles, but always after the fact, with not even a consideration of trying to rewrite the wrongs via the sportsbooks. Assessing the impact of potential cheating is part of the betting equation. Considering Medina Spirit was Bob Baffert’s fifth horse of the year to test positive for PEDs, a very real part of the equation.

Ointment. Go figure.

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