NEW YORK — Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert has been temporarily suspended by the New York Racing Association (NYRA). The suspension announced in a news release says Baffert will not be allowed to enter horses in races or house them in stalls at Belmont Park, Saratoga Racecourse and Aqueduct Racetrack. 

What You Need To Know

  • New York Racing Association suspends Bob Baffert

  • Baffert won't be allowed to race horses at Belmont Park, Saratoga Racecourse or Aqueduct Racetrack.

  • The New York suspension is contingent on the investigation taking place in Kentucky.

  • Baffert admitted to using an ointment on Medina Spirit but didn't know about the steroid it contained


“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.”

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert from its track Sunday, May 9 following a positive drug test in his horse Medina Spirit, which won the Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned corticosteroid. Baffert denied all wrongdoing and promised to be fully transparent with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) during its investigation. The KHRC 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 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.

Betamethasone is the same drug that was found in the system of Gamine, another Baffert-trained horse who finished third in the Kentucky Oaks last September. Gamine was eventually disqualified from that finish because of that test and Baffert was fined $1,500. Betamethasone is legal under Kentucky racing rules, though it must be cleared 14 days before the horse races.

Baffert claims he had no knowledge the ointment he used on Medina Spirit had betamethasone in it.

“First, I had no knowledge of how betamethasone could have possibly found its way into Medina Spirit (until now) and this has never been a case of attempting to game the system or get an unfair advantage,” Baffert’s statement reads. “Second, horse racing must address its regulatory problem when it comes to substances which can innocuously find their way into a horse’s system at the picogram (which is a trillionth of a gram) level.”

The NYRA hasn't said how long or what the terms of Baffert's suspension are, but says it plans to make a final decision based on information from Kentucky's investigation. 

If Medina Spirit is disqualified from Derby 147, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner’s share of The Derby purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won’t matter — those who cashed in on Medina Spirit still win, those who didn’t still lose and those who backed Mandaloun missed out on a winning ticket that would have returned more than $50 on a $2 wager.


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