Churchill Downs suspends Bob Baffert for 2 years

Bob Baffert is at or near anyone's list of horse racing's top trainers. (Source: John P....
Bob Baffert is at or near anyone's list of horse racing's top trainers. (Source: John P. Wise/ P. Wise/ | John P. Wise/
Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:10 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Bob Baffert won’t be able to win another Kentucky Derby until 2024 at the earliest.

Churchill Downs on Wednesday suspended the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Baffert won a record seventh Derby on May 1, but Medina Spirit failed his post-race drug test. On Wednesday, a second sample requested by Baffert confirmed the faulty test result.

“The suspension prohibits Baffert, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all CDI-owned racetracks,” Churchill Downs Incorporated said in a statement. “This decision follows the confirmation by attorneys representing Bob Baffert of the presence of betamethasone, a prohibited race-day substance, in Medina Spirit’s bloodstream on the day of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby in violation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s equine medication protocols and CDI’s terms and conditions for racing.”

CDI also said in the statement that it reserves the right to extend Baffert’s suspension if there are additional violations in any racing jurisdiction.

Baffert, who has a barn at Churchill Downs but calls California’s Santa Anita Park his home track, has enjoyed four Derby wins at Churchill in the last seven races, including in 2015 and 2018 when American Pharoah and Justify, respectively, both went on to win the Triple Crown.

Racing analyst Jerry Bailey told WAVE 3 Sports Director Kent Taylor on Wednesday that he’s not surprised about the suspension, referencing previous reports about doping among Baffert’s horses.

“As much as I respect Bob Baffert, and I do, he had this happen to him last fall with Gamine,” Bailey said. “Same medication, it’s a therapeutic medication, we know it’s legal, but it was still in the system. And the rule says you can’t have any in your system.”

Bailey also said he expects Medina Spirit’s Derby triumph to be overturned.

“My guess is that he will be disqualified eventually, and that hurts our industry,” he said. “That’s a black eye.”

A disqualification would move up second-place finisher Mandaloun and give Louisville native Brad Cox his first Kentucky Derby win.

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