- Bob Baffert is barred indefinitely from entering and stabling horses at New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks.
- The duration of Baffert’s ban will be determined based on information from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s investigation into the positive drug test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.
- The sanction means that Baffert won’t be able to enter any horses at the upcoming Belmont Stakes.
Bob Baffert has been barred indefinitely from entering and stabling horses at New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks. This means that Baffert won’t be able to race any horses in the June 5 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. The tracks under the auspices of NYRA are Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack.
NYRA’s decision stems from the ongoing situation with Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s positive drug test following the race. Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a regulated anti-inflammatory given to horses to reduce swelling in their joints. It’s a class of medication known as corticosteroids and is similar to what a human doctor might give a patient to expedite healing after an injury. According to Baffert, his horse tested positive for 21 picograms of the drug per milliliter of blood serum. The Hall of Fame trainer initially claimed that Medina Spirit had never been treated with betamethasone but several days later issued a statement that the horse had been treated with an anti-fungal ointment containing the substance. Baffert was allowed to enter Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in last weekend’s Preakness Stakes though he remained at home in California.
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the temporary suspension of Bob Baffert from entering horses in races and occupying stall space at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack.
“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
On Sunday, May 9, 2021, Mr. Baffert publicly acknowledged that the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned corticosteroid that would trigger a disqualification and loss of purse money should a split sample return the same finding. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is required to await the split-sample results before rendering a final determination in the matter.
In addition to the ongoing investigation into Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby, NYRA has taken into account the fact that other horses trained by Mr. Baffert have failed drug tests in the recent past, resulting in the assessment of penalties against him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California, and Arkansas.
The ban extends to Baffert as well as ‘any individual employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables’.
NYRA has indicated that the length and terms of Baffert’s suspension will be ‘based on information revealed during the course of the ongoing investigation in Kentucky, such as the post-Kentucky Derby test results of Medina Spirit’. The expectation is that if the second sample is validated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission they’ll disqualify Medina Spirit and name Mandaloun the Kentucky Derby winner.
The split sample test in Kentucky is expected to take several weeks. Baffert’s attorney, Craig Robertson, has told the media that he is reviewing the NYRA decision and will talk it over with his client as well as review legal options available. No statement will be forthcoming from Team Baffert until after this consultation.
Baffert doesn’t regularly stable horses at New York tracks though he frequently ships entries in for major races at Belmont and Saratoga. He wasn’t planning to run a horse in the Belmont Stakes this year though had tentatively spoke of possibly running Charlatan in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on the undercard.