Hall Of Fame Horse Trainer Bob Baffert Banned 2 Years By Churchill Downs

By Jason Hall

June 2, 2021

Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert has been banned two years by Churchill Downs after his Kentucky Derby winning horse, Medina Spirit, tested positive for a steroid for the second time on Wednesday (June 2).

ESPN reports the suspension was taken into effect immediately and will run through the 2023 Spring Meet at the race track.

Attorneys for Baffert and Amr Zedan, the owner of Medina Spirit, said a second post-race sample from the horse tested positive for betamethasone, showing 25 picograms of the steroid after 21 were initially found, ESPN reports.

The multiple test results could lead to Medina Spirit being disqualified in the 2021 Kentucky Derby champion, which would declare Mandaloun, the horse that finished second in the May 1 race, as the new champion.

However, the decision to disqualify Medina Spirit will ultimately be made by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is still actively investigating the situation before publicly announcing its decision.

"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," Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement obtained by ESPN. "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."

Baffert has already been suspended by the New York Racing Association, which is preventing any of his horses from competing in this weekend's Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, pending the Kentucky Derby investigation.

The Hall of Fame trainer could also face sanctions in relation to the Kentucky Derby incident, which is his fifth medication violation in the past 13 months.

Maryland officials allowed Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, another horse trained by Baffert, to compete in the Preakness -- the second leg of the Triple Crown -- last month, as well as his filly, Beautiful Gift, in the Black-Eyed Susan the previous day after all three horses past pre-race drug tests.

Medina Spirit finished third and Concert Tour ninth in the May 15 Preakness race, which was held without Baffert in attendance.

Baffert initially denied any wrongdoing during a May 9 press conference in response to the first positive test, calling the accusations "the biggest gut-punch in racing for something that I didn't do," before later citing the antifungal ointment as a potential cause for the test results.

Photo: Getty Images

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