Kentucky Derby

J. Tyler Franklin

Embattled Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit will run in this weekend’s Preakness Stakes.

The Maryland Jockey Club and a lawyer for trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday they had reached an agreement involving increased testing and monitoring of three Baffert horses ahead of the races.

That follows an announcement earlier Tuesday from Baffert that Medina Spirit was treated with an antifungal ointment that contained betamethasone. After the Derby, the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the substance, more than the allowed limit.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert following the initial positive test. If another test reveals the same finding, the horse could be disqualified as the Derby winner.

Baffert: Anti-Fungal Meds Given To Derby Winner Had Steroid

May 11, 2021
Ashlee Clark Thompson

Trainer Bob Baffert says Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit was treated with an antifungal ointment containing the steroid betamethasone that caused the horse to fail a postrace drug test.

Baffert in a statement sent out by his lawyer says Medina Spirit was treated with the ointment for dermatitis once a day leading up to the race and that experts have told him this could explain the test results. Baffert says the horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the substance, which would lead to a disqualification if upheld with another test.

Lawyer Craig Robertson says the plan is still for Medina Spirit to run in the Preakness on Saturday.

Churchill Downs Suspends Trainer Bob Baffert

May 9, 2021
J. Tyler Franklin

Churchill Downs has indefinitely suspended Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. 

The announcement came following a Sunday morning news conference where Baffert said Medina Spirit, this year’s race winner, failed a postrace drug test. 

Medina Spirit won the 147th Kentucky Derby by a ½ length over second place competitor Mandaloun, but if Kentucky horse racing officials uphold the findings, this year’s first place winner could be disqualified. 

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” Churchill Downs said in a release.

Updated May 1, 2021 at 10:03 PM ET

Medina Spirit overcame tough odds to win the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, giving trainer Bob Baffert a record seventh Derby victory.

Medina Spirit, mounted by jockey John Velazquez, broke out of the gate with an early lead and held fast as the race met the final stretch.

J. Tyler Franklin

Key employees at the Churchill Downs racetrack may strike on Derby Day. Representatives for the track’s workers’ union said they haven’t been able to come to an agreement with Churchill Downs over pay and benefits for the company’s valets.

“And now we’re getting to the brink of a very scary decision: whether we strike an event that the world watches,” said attorney David Suetholtz, who represents the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 541. 

The union has about 400 members, and around 200 of them usually work the Derby, Suetholtz said.

According to Suetholtz, the union has been trying to negotiate its three-year contract since last July for the valets at Churchill Downs, and since last February for those at Turfway Park in Florence. Valets saddle and unsaddle the horses, and make sure each horse is carrying the same weight.

World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons

Activists are calling on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to ban Derby favorite Essential Quality and his owner, the ruler of Dubai. The activists point to findings by a British court that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum kidnapped his own daughter and is holding her hostage.

Their demand is based on a 2020 fact-finding judgement by a British court, which found that Sheikh Mohammad kidnapped his then 33-year-old daughter Sheikha Latifa in 2018 as she was trying to flee the emirate and seek asylum in the United States. 

According to University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson, Sheikha Latifa made it to international waters on a U.S. ship, when Emirati and Indian forces stormed the vessel and took her and the crew captive. She has not been heard from since.

J. Tyler Franklin

Louisville will clear out homeless camps ahead of the Kentucky Derby again.

Officials posted notices that camps on Liberty Street downtown near Wayside Christian Mission, which provides services for the homeless, and Adair Street near the airport will be dismantled on April 15.

John Miles, veteran coordinator for the Louisville Metro’s Office of Resilience and Community Services, said during a meeting of the city’s Homeless Encampment Taskforce Wednesday the camps need to come down for safety reasons.

“We definitely look at severity, the health risk factor, not only for our clients, but our pedestrians who travel underneath those overpasses,” Miles said.

Authentic Wins 2020 Kentucky Derby

Sep 6, 2020
Stephanie Wolf

Authentic has won the 146th Kentucky Derby in a quiet Churchill Downs.

The horse is trained by Bob Baffert and was ridden by jockey John Velazquez. Authentic nudged out a crowded field to finish first; unofficial results include Tiz the Law and Mr. Big News coming in second and third, respectively.

This year’s Kentucky Derby was delayed for only the second time in history; the other time was in 1945, because of World War Two. Churchill Downs officials pushed the race from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in September due to the coronavirus pandemic; in August, amid rising case numbers, they decided the race would be run without in-person spectators.

Jess Clark | WFPL

A coalition of activist groups is renewing their calls against the Kentucky Derby, a day before the 146th running at Churchill Downs.

Groups including Until Freedom and the Justice and Freedom Coalition are planning to protest near the track during Saturday’s races, which will be held without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. Standing on Central Avenue Friday, organizers criticized what they called a provocative response from the city.

“Our reality is that it seems like nobody cares,” said Pastor Mario Martin of the Justice and Freedom Coalition. “How? Because they say ‘We’re going to allow peaceful protest.’ But then if you turn around and look, you see tanks. You see soldiers to stand in opposition to that.”

Ryan Van Velzer

Churchill Downs has closed general admission at the Kentucky Derby this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The track still plans to host an estimated 23,000 guests at the 146th Running For the Roses scheduled for September 5th, Churchill Downs said in a statement Wednesday.

As part of a 62-page “health and safety operations plan”,  the track said reserved seating would be limited to 40% occupancy and standing room-only tickets have been eliminated. The plan calls for outdoor ticket holders to be placed in a “new comparable location” to meet social distance guidelines.  Pre-purchased General Admission tickets will be refunded.

Officials say guests will receive temperature checks and medical questionnaires before entering the track.

J. Tyler Franklin

Churchill Downs Racetrack says it will move forward with the 146th runnings of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby with spectators in September.

The races, which historically happen during the first week of May, were delayed until September 4 and 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Churchill Downs said the events would happen as planned, with restrictions, after consultation with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health officials.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Derby will be postponed for the second time in its 146-year history.

The race and its affiliated events are the major economic driver for the Louisville area’s economy, and equally important to the region culturally. Officials announced Tuesday it would be pushed back to September 5, making it the latest major sporting event changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Public health experts are encouraging everyone to stay away from crowds to avoid spreading the disease.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Derby has an outsize impact on the Louisville region’s economy. It’s Churchill Downs’ signature event. Hotels run out of rooms and short-term rental hosts hike rates. And last year, the day after Derby was the busiest in the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport’s history.

With a little more than a month to go until Thunder Over Louisville, the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival, there are questions about how public fears of coronavirus could affect turnout. For Louisville, fewer attendees could mean less revenue for local businesses, according to one expert.

J. Tyler Franklin

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the owners of Maximum Security seeking to challenge the decision to disqualify their horse as the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Owners Gary and Mary West wanted the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky to reverse the stewards’ decision and find that their decision violated the couple’s constitutional rights to due process. They also wanted to have the $3 million Derby purse be redistributed to them, jockey Luis Saez and trainer Jason Servis.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Jockey Luis Saez has been suspended for 15 days for failing to control Maximum Security and causing interference that resulted in the horse's historic disqualification as the Kentucky Derby winner.

The decision by the Kentucky stewards was announced Monday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Saez was cited for failing to "make the proper effort to maintain a straight course" in the May 4 race at Churchill Downs.