Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended two years from applying for stall space and entering races at Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) racetracks. The suspension, which takes effect immediately, runs through the 2023 Churchill Downs spring meet.
The suspension also prohibits any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Baffert for applying for stall space or entering races at CDI tracks.
The decision follows the confirmation by Baffert’s attorneys that a positive split sample test showed the presence of betamethasone, a prohibited race-day substance, in the bloodstream of Medina Spirit, the first-place finisher in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1).
“CDI has consistently advocated for strict medication regulations so that we can confidently ensure that horses are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated. Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby. Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility.”
Reserving the right to extend Baffert’s suspension if there are additional violations by Baffert in other racing jurisdictions, the company noted in a release that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has the sole authority to disqualify Medina Spirt as the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The commission is pursuing the completion of its investigation in accordance with its rules and regulations.