New York horse racing officers on Monday barred the coach Bob Baffert not solely from coming into the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit within the Belmont Stakes, but in addition from operating any of his horses at Belmont Park or at Saratoga Race Course this summer season.
In an announcement, David O’Rourke, chief government of the New York Racing Affiliation, cited the investigation into Medina Spirit’s victory on Could 1 within the Kentucky Derby. However he additionally took under consideration Baffert’s “failed drug assessments within the latest previous, ensuing within the evaluation of penalties in opposition to him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California and Arkansas.”
Neither Baffert, a Corridor of Fame coach with seven Kentucky Derby victories, nor his horses might be allowed on the grounds of these New York racetracks, which might be expensive to the coach’s horse homeowners as a result of vital and profitable races are run on them. The ban extends to Baffert’s assistants as nicely.
“With a view to keep a profitable thoroughbred racing trade in New York, NYRA should defend the integrity of the game for our followers, the betting public and racing contributors,” O’Rourke mentioned. “That accountability calls for the motion taken at present in the perfect pursuits of thoroughbred racing.”
Twice in recent times — in 2015 with American Pharoah and once more three years later with Justify — Baffert’s horses accomplished the game’s holy grail, the Triple Crown, at Belmont Park, the grand previous racetrack on Lengthy Island. Baffert additionally ceaselessly sends horses from his California base to compete in stakes races at Saratoga, such because the Travers Stakes, which is often known as the Midsummer Derby.
“A last dedication relating to the size and phrases of Mr. Baffert’s suspension might be based mostly on data revealed throughout the course of the continued investigation in Kentucky, such because the post-Kentucky Derby check outcomes of Medina Spirit,” O’Rourke mentioned.
Whereas Rombauer’s victory within the Preakness Stakes on Saturday in Baltimore quieted the circus that has surrounded Medina Spirit because the colt’s optimistic check for the drug betamethasone, racing officers sought to place an finish to it fully earlier than it traveled to New York for the Belmont Stakes on June 5.
Churchill Downs officers have made it clear that if a second pattern confirms the presence of the drug, a corticosteroid injected into joints to cut back ache and swelling, the colt might be disqualified and Mandaloun, the runner-up, might be declared the winner.
The outcomes of that pattern will not be identified but, and Baffert had the fitting to ship the second pattern to a lab of his alternative. That result is expected to be identified within the coming weeks.
On Could 9, after asserting the failed drug check, Baffert mentioned there was no method he or his barn may have been accountable for giving Medina Spirit the steroid, and he vowed to be clear. He gave a sequence of tv and radio interviews, floating various theories about how the colt had examined optimistic for betamethasone.
Baffert criticized Churchill Downs’s suspension of him as “harsh,” blamed “cancel culture” for the controversy and said racing officials were out to get him.
The next day, however, he acknowledged treating Medina Spirit for a rash by using an antifungal ointment called Otomax, which contained betamethasone, every day for several weeks.
Last fall, after a run of high-profile drug violations — five in 13 months and 30 overall — Baffert said he hired Michael Hore, a veterinarian at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., to ensure rule compliance and the well-being of his horses. Within the past week, however, Baffert’s lawyer said that the veterinarian was, in fact, never hired.
At the Preakness, Baffert and the owners of Pimlico Race Course came up with an agreement to allow expanded drug testing as a way of allowing the colt to run. Three rounds of blood and urine were taken from Medina Spirit for tests, all of which he passed.
Baffert, however, stayed away from Baltimore, missing Medina Spirit’s third-place finish and avoiding questions about who prescribed the drug and how long it was applied to the horse.
Photos show that betamethasone is clearly labeled on the ointment’s packaging. Veterinarians have said it is often used to clear up ear infections in dogs and other small animals.
Baffert turned down several requests from The New York Times to make public his colt’s records.