Bob Baffert, coach of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, stands near the track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on April 28, 2021.
Bryan Woolston | Reuters
Churchill Downs Racetrack suspended equestrian trainer Bob Baffert for two years after attorneys announced Wednesday that its Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit had failed a second drug test for the banned steroid betamethasone.
The suspension means that no horse trained by Baffert or Bob Baffert Racing Stables will be able to ride a track owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated until the Churchill Downs Spring Meeting closes.
Part of that gathering is the Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in the horse racing triple crown.
Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen quoted Baffert’s history of failed horse drug testing when he announced the two-year ban on the coach, whose seven derby wins are the most of all coaches.
Carstanjen also took a shot of Baffert for spreading the idea that Medina Spirit only had betamethasone in its system from an anti-fungal ointment being applied to the horse.
“CDI has consistently advocated strict drug regulations so that we can confidently ensure that the horses are fit for racing and that the races are conducted fairly,” Carstanjen said in a statement.
“Reckless practices and substance abuse that endanger the safety of our equine and human athletes or endanger the integrity of our sport are unacceptable and as a company we must take steps to show that they will not be tolerated,” said Carstanjen.
“Mr. Baffert’s record of test failure threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby,” said the CEO.
“In light of these repeated failures over the past year, including the increasingly extraordinary declarations, we firmly believe that it is our duty and responsibility to enforce our right to enforce these measures.”
Baffert announced on May 9 that Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a steroid used for therapeutic purposes in horses, in a sample taken on the day of his Derby victory a week earlier.
Although this drug is legal for use as a therapeutic on a horse in Kentucky, any trace of it on race day is a reason for disqualification if a second test confirms it was in the blood that day.
On Wednesday, lawyers for the owners of Medina Spirit, Amr Zedan and Baffert, announced that betamethasone was found in a second test of a blood sample.
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