2021 Kentucky Derby Winner, Medina Spirit, Finally Addresses PED Positive Test

The Kentucky Derby winner finally speaks on the record

Medina Spirit wins the Kentucky Derby
Medina Spirit wins the Kentucky Derby (NBC Sports)

On May 9th, the news broke that the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, Median Spirit, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The American Thoroughbred reportedly had taken 21 picograms of betamethasone. Though betamethasone is not a banned substance, it is regulated, and the amount of the drug in Medina’s system was over double the allowed dose. Now, he is subject to scrutiny by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and possible removal of his Kentucky Derby win.

I reached out to Medina offering him a chance to tell his side of this scandal, and he agreed to an interview.

What was your reaction when you first heard about the positive drug test?

My first reaction was, “What is my mom going to think?” Then I was like, “Wait, who is my mom?” Once I got over the fact that I don’t really know my mom, it hit me that I’m possibly screwed. You see this kind of thing happen to other professional athletes all the time, but you never think it will happen to you.

Have you used drugs before?

I’m not going to stand here and say that I’m some sort of saint. I’m no spring pony—I’ve done my fair share of partying. I actually used to party with American Pharoah, and we would go hard. I’d be lying if I told you that drugs weren’t passed around. One night, we actually ate some shrooms we found growing in the back of our pasture. We spent the whole night laughing and discussing religion and spirituality (I’m Jewish, and Pharoah is Presbyterian). Then all of a sudden it was morning and this jockey walks up to me, and I swear I thought he was a tiny Jesus. But, he was just coming to grab me for a warm up. Long story short, being ridden while you’re tripping balls is not a fun experience.

As far as performance-enhancing drugs go though, no, I have not used those before. At least not to my knowledge—humans are always injecting me with stuff and shoving things in my mouth. So, who knows…Maybe a PED slipped in at some point.

Do you blame Bob Baffert for putting you in this compromising position?

I’ve always had my doubts about Bob. I mean, look at the guy—tell me he doesn’t have offshore bank accounts. But, whenever it came to taking drugs, he would tell me things like, “Seabiscuit did it.” Then, if I still refused, he’d bully me. He would always say, “Why the long face?” He knows I’m super self-conscious about the length of my face. So, I felt pressured by my colleagues to use PEDs.

I heard that Bob responded to all this by saying, “There are problems in racing…But it’s not Bob Baffert.” Like really bro? I’m one of five horses you’ve trained who has tested positive for drugs within the past year, but you’re not the problem? I always say, “If it looks like a mule, acts as a mule, and has a mom who’s a horse and dad who’s a donkey, it probably is a mule.”

Is there anything you’d like to say to all the other race horses?

I want to first apologize to them. I know that so many of you look up to me, and I let you down. But, as a professional athlete, I am kind of put on this pedestal. But, I’m just like everyone else—I also have four legs, a tail, and eat hay. I also make mistakes.

My main goal now is to use my mistakes as a vehicle to improve the futures of others. So, I started my own non-profit, Say Neigh to Drugs (SND). We go barn to barn educating the next generation of race horses about the dangers of drugs. If I prevent just one foal from trying drugs, then it will all be worth it.

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Morgan Williams is a freelance humor writer based in Atlanta.