Maylin: The final search for the spirit of Medina is far from over

In the summer of 2021, Kentucky Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate urged both sides of the Spirit of Medina dispute over positive tests to obtain Dr. George Maylin’s urine sample scientific test results so that the resolution of the case can move forward. Nearly a year later, Maylin said her comprehensive research related to specific tests is not nearly complete.

According to testimony he gave in a June 10 deposition, Maylin read coach Bob Baffert’s claim that betamethasone was found in Medina Spirit’s blood after the 2021 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve ( G1) to Churchill Falls comes from Otomax, a rash balm.

That betamethasone positive would ultimately lead Kentucky stewards to disqualify Medina Spirit and issue a suspension and fine to Baffert — actions that are under appeal.

Maylin, director of the New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory where post-race samples are routinely tested for banned substances, said he decided on his own, with the 2021 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets ( G1) looming weeks after the Derby, “I better see if, in fact, (topical application of) Otomax… might result in a positive test…”

Maylin said he discussed the potential for problems in the Belmont in mid-May 2021 with Ronald Ochrym, acting director of the Racing Division at the New York State Gaming Commission.

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According to his testimony, Maylin became more involved in June 2021 when veterinarian Dr Clara Fenger, on behalf of Medina Spirit Relations of Zedan Racing Stables, asked him if he would perform any tests and research on the matter. Maylin agreed to do so.

Meanwhile, Maylin and her lab associates applied Otomax and collected urine samples from two purebred research mares in May and August 2021, and urine samples from Medina Spirit were delivered to her on July 14. 2021. There was a waiting period of several months while another lab worked on the development of metabolites needed for testing.

A Dec. 3, 2021, reporting letter from Maylin to attorneys for Baffert and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission states that he tested samples from Medina Spirit and the two research mares, and that analytes of Otomax ingredients were found. were found in both. The letter concludes: “We consider this to be a research project that will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal and as such is confidential until the data is submitted for review. “

And therein lies the problem. Although Maylin disclosed to KHRC and Baffert/Zedan in due course a lab record of his Medina Spirit urine tests, he refused, and still refuses, to provide written analytical details of the lab’s research on the two. test mares.

Additionally, when questioned by KHRC attorney Jennifer Wolsing, Maylin said her work on the test mares had not been peer-reviewed or shared with another lab, and would not be reviewed by peer reviewers. peers until “we have finalized our results”. When asked when that would be, Maylin first replied, “I’m not sure,” then added, “within a year.”

The research can be finalized, Maylin said, “when we have enough data to submit it to a scientific journal…a significant amount of additional studies, additional administration trials.”

“What’s the point of continuing to test and administer this drug to more horses?” Wolsing asked Maylin.

“Our main job is to test blood and urine samples from racehorses,” Maylin replied. “It’s not a priority in our routine work. And we’ll do it when we can get there.”

Pressed for more information, Maylin said he would need to test at least eight horses in order to have publishable results.

In denying access to work, Maylin testified that there is California case law saying he is not obligated to publish his research on test horses, and that he is unwilling to publish it. even with a protective order limiting its release.

“So basically we just have to take your word for (the research); is that correct?” Wolsing asked.

To which Maylin replied, “Or you can do your own research.”

Otomax applied in the Gaskin area of ​​a test mare, another applied around the mouth

Maylin testified that he understood that Otomax had been applied to a “back leg” of Medina Spirit based on his review of a photo he had seen in BloodHorse. He testified that Otomax was applied to a test mare in the gaskin area. The gaskin is a part of the hind leg between the stifle and the hock, corresponding in human terms to an area between the knee and the ankle.

Photo: Courtesy of Bob Baffert

According to trainer Bob Baffert, this photo showed the dermatitis on Medina Spirit’s rear end

BloodHorse reported on May 11, 2021 that, according to a statement released by Baffert, its staff treated Medina Spirit’s hindquarters for dermatitis with Otomax.

Otomax was put on the other test mare in the mouth around her lips and on her tongue in case Medina Spirit licked the application area, Maylin said.

A review filled with objections

Maylin appeared in his Zoom deposition with a lawyer who appeared remotely, Joseph Farraldo. Craig Robertson appeared for Baffert, and there was no appearance announced by an attorney for owner Amr Zedan or his racing company. Between Robertson and Farraldo, they disagreed 134 times during Wolsing’s direct questioning of Maylin, which included 113 pages in the transcript obtained by BloodHorse.

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