On Friday, Kentucky’s racing director denied a request to stay trainer Bob Baffert’s suspension by stewards in their ruling that also disqualified Medina Spirit as 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, reported the Associated Press and others.
On Feb. 21, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards suspended Baffert for 90 days, effective March 8 through June 5. In addition, they fined the Hall of Fame trainer $7,500. They also stripped the now-deceased Medina Spirit of his Derby victory. He tested positive for the steroid betamethasone following the Derby on May 1.
Churchill Downs subsequently elevated runner-up Mandaloun to Derby winner after the stewards’ ruling. The track had previously suspended Baffert for two years, citing a series of positive tests by his horses.
Marc A. Guilfoil, director of the KHRC, sent a letter to Baffert’s attorneys on Friday. The letter stated he did “not find good cause” to stay the rulings. Guilfoil added that the attorneys could petition for a review of his decision.
Baffert attorney: ‘He’s being treated differently’
Baffert’s attorney Clark Brewster countered in a statement that the commission “has always granted” stays to ensure a trainer does not suffer from a wrongful decision that is later reversed on appeal.
“The Commission has apparently decided that Bob Baffert should be treated differently than everyone who came before him,” said Brewster, who added that he expects the move to be reversed in court.
“This should be seen for what it is: a deliberate, capricious and malicious effort to deny Bob Baffert his right to appeal the stewards’ ruling under Kentucky law and to ensure that Bob must suffer even if he ultimately prevails on appeal,” he said.
Medina Spirit owner Amr Zedan passionately defended Baffert on Saturday while appearing on the Saudi Cup international broadcast to discuss the trainer and his fight against the colt’s disqualification. Zedan said he will provide the resources to continue the court battle as long as needed.
Baffert horses idle lately
Last week on Twitter, horse racing enthusiast Andy Villanueva shared info posted by Horse Racing Nation of recent activity among Baffert’s top potential Derby horses:
Corniche: No works since BC Juvenile win.
Murray: No works since Del Mar Futurity.
Winning Map: No works since Jan. 4.
Kamui: No works since the Bob Hope Stakes on Nov. 14.
Messier: Today, he worked a half-mile in 48.60 at Santa Anita, reports the Daily Racing Form.
Baffert horses denied 83 Derby points so far
So far, Baffert horses have vacated 83 Kentucky Derby points. They include 30 points by Corniche (first in the American Pharoah, first in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), 20 for Newgrange (first in the Sham, first in the Southwest), 14 for Messier (second in the Los Alamitos Futurity, first in the Robert B. Lewis), 10 for Blackadder (first in the El Camino Real Derby), 5 for Rockefeller (fourth in the American Pharoah, second in the Sham), 2 for Wharton (third in the Robert B. Lewis) and 2 for Barossa (third in the Los Alamitos Futurity).
Barossa has been transferred to trainer Rodolphe Brissett. However, there have not been other barn switches from top prospects.
Owners of Baffert horses staying put for now
Horse Racing Nation also reported that the common refrain among Baffert’s owners since his Derby suspension has been that any potential transfer to another trainer probably would not come until before the final round of Derby preps, which are virtual automatic qualifiers for the top two finishers. Those races start March 26 with the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan and the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Eligible horses who are the top four finishers receive 100-40-20-10 points, respectively. There are six other races of the same value on April 2 and April 9.