Despite Kentucky Derby Controversy, No Worries Likely For Michigan Medina Spirit Bets

Written By Matt Schoch on May 10, 2021

Although the result of the Kentucky Derby is now in doubt, Michigan bettors likely don’t need to worry about their winnings from legal horse racing apps.

A spokesperson for the Michigan Gaming Control Board confirmed to PlayMichigan that the board is reviewing the Medina Spirit win this month, though no state has yet said any change will take place for wagering outcomes.

The situation definitely a black eye for the sport, however, as its most famous figure has invited more scrutiny into MI horse racing betting.

Another Bob Baffert win, another Baffert controversy

Medina Spirit’s win was the record-setting seventh in the Derby for legendary trainer Bob Baffert.

But the aftermath is one that could further tarnish his legacy.

Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone. There is a ban on the drug for a 14-day window leading up to the Derby. Betamethasone is an anti-inflammatory. It can reduce pain and mask injuries.

A second positive test is pending, which could prompt a disqualification.

Medina Spirit is Baffert’s fifth horse to have failed a drug test in just over a year. Baffert, who was suspended from Churchill Downs on Sunday, can appeal the decision.

Baffert has denied any wrongdoing and plans to run the horse in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Medina Spirit’s eligibility was in limbo as of late Monday afternoon.

Will Mandaloun become the Kentucky Derby winner?

Mandaloun was the runner-up at the Derby, which took place May 1.

If Medina is stripped of the title, Mandaloun will be declared the winner.

Mandaloun bettors would surely gripe if there’s a change in the race’s. But a change in betting payouts seems unlikely, especially given the nature of pari-mutuel betting.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, for example, told the Washington Post that payment of tickets is made “on the basis of the order of finish as declared ‘official’ by the stewards or judges.” Any ruling afterward that would change the order of finish would not affect gambling-related payouts.

Bad timing for Michigan horse racing betting

The national controversy brings about more local headaches for a sport that doesn’t need it.

In Michigan, several racetracks have closed over the last couple decades, leaving Northville Downs as the only live racing venue.

Michigan added advance deposit wagering last year, and now you can bet on racing online through apps like TVG.

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Meanwhile, the federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act goes into effect next summer, which establishes an independent regulatory agency. In the industry, each state can manage the process differently.

Here, the Michigan Gaming Control Board oversees horse racing, with the executive director serving as racing commissioner. The MGCB also oversees horse betting.

Another horse racing app coming to Michigan?

Other horse racing apps will likely join TVG, TwinSpires and Xpressbet in Michigan.

PointsBet on Monday announced the acquisition of BetPTC.com.

The Australian company launched its first online casino here in Michigan last week, stating its interest in becoming a player in the horse racing game in the United States.

Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP
Matt Schoch Avatar
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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