The Lab used for the Kentucky Oaks and Derby testing had their Churchill Downs contract terminated before the races but were still used

May 10, 2021

In the wake of the positive betamethasone test returned on Medina Spirit following his record breaking seventh Kentucky Derby win for trainer Bob Baffert, I wrote the following article detailing the facts available at that time and my take on them.

You can read it HERE:

Things happen fast in horse racing when they involve Bob Baffert

Several thousand people read the article. To my surprise despite some people from the court of public opinion trashing Bob, his team, and anyone who did not call for him to be tar and feathered, myself included, supported the honesty and fair and balanced logical approach of the article. That is all I intended to do, present the facts, and learn, know and share the truth. It defy’s reasonable logic to conclude Bob, Jimmy Barnes, or anyone on the team did what they are being accused of and more importantly paying the price for it for prior to any due process.

As I wrote, things were happening fast and subsequent to the article I learned additional facts I found interesting. We knew Churchill Downs was attempting to set a benchmark if you will of safety and integrity protocols. I applaud that as many in the industry do. Where I differed and voiced my opinion in a Past the Wire Tv video you can watch HERE was that this should also be done the 363 days we race but don’t run the Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby and the supporting stakes.

We knew 21 picograms of betamethasone was apprently in a post race test on Medina Spirit. This is what I did not know.

Despite Churchill Downs wanting to set the stage for a fair and level playing field with no tolerance or opportunity for any drug violations, performance enhancing or otherwise, they chose to utilize a small Colorado laboratory called Industrial Laboratories in Wheat Ridge Colorado. What I found odd was that according to an April 20th, 2021 article in Bloodhorse called KHRC Approves Move of State’s Drug Testing to UK Lab, Churchill Downs had already decided to terminate their contract with this laboratory. You can read it here. The change was to take place in June, after the running of the Oaks and Derby. I would guess if Churchill Downs wanted to upgrade their testing lab to enhance accuracy, integrity, and ultimately safety they could have switched earlier and bought out the remaining month on the contract. After all it was the Derby and an example was being set.

Industrial Labs in Wheat Ridge Colorado has one Google review. Here it is:

Hasta Luego

Unprofessional, very unorganized and unknowledgeable- they can read results (after they finally find them, unless they just made them up) but they themselves don’t understand what the results (numbers) mean.

This is from the Kentucky Derby and Oaks Churchill Downs protocols:

MEDICATION

The KHRC has conducted out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, as well as undercard graded stakes, before entries are taken and will send them to Industrial Laboratories in Wheat Ridge, Colo., for immediate testing. Other jurisdictions, including Arkansas, California, Florida, Maryland and New York, obtained out of competition samples on behalf of the KHRC from horses that are not stabled in Kentucky;

Daily veterinarian’s record of all medications and treatments given to any horse on the grounds must be submitted to the KHRC Chief Veterinarian within 24 hours of administration;

All practicing veterinarians of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses will be identified by KHRC no later than 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 25;

Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. Materials used for medication administrations may be retained by the KHRC for possible testing;

Veterinarians will not be permitted in the stalls of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks participants within 24 hours of the race unless accompanied by a KHRC investigator;

No medications are permitted within 24 hours of the race. In the event of a medical emergency, the Stewards will authorize treatment and the horse will be scratched; and

Five teams of KHRC veterinarians will collect blood samples for TCO2 (a.k.a. “milkshake”) and testing 30 minutes prior to the horses’ scheduled departure for the paddock.

You can read the entire list of safety and integrity protocols HERE

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Why Industrial Labs is not a member of the BBB is a question for them not me. Why Churchill Downs would utilize Industrial Labs, knowing they are not a member of the BBB and the one review they have is not good is a question for them. Why they would tarnish the Kentucky Derby and protocols they are trying to set a benchmark on by using a lab they terminated a contract with is odd to me. Why would this change not be pushed prior to the sports biggest weekend?

As of this writing it is being decided whether Medina Spirit or any other Bob Baffert trained horses will be allowed to run in Maryland on Preakness weekend. Of note is Bob ran a horse yesterday at Santa Anita, which we all know is owned by The Stronach Group, who owns Pimlico. I would guess the delay on accepting Bob Baffert entries for the Preakness and undercards was delayed until Monday so that The Stronach Group can consult with their attorneys. That is just my guess. What is not a guess is due process was not given to Bob as of yet. Churchill Downs announced his suspension prior to the split sample their rules entitle him to. What happens if the split sample comes back negative? What happens if DNA or hair follicle testing shows as Bob stated that Medina Spirit was never given betamethasone? Worse, what happens if the horse is denied running in the Preakness and this plays out this way. This is why level heads don’t rush to judgements, especially when there are so many questions and irregularities.

Nothing is as it seems.

Contributing Authors

Jon Stettin

Jonathan’s always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. Growing up around the game, he came about as close as anyone...

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@jonathanstettin Nice piece and well articulated! Thanks for sharing your knowledge through your work!

Trey Reid (@ReidT8) View testimonials

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