Bob Baffert’s troubles continue
Top trainer Bob Baffert was suspended this week from entering horses at New York racetracks. That includes Belmont Park and the upcoming Belmont Stakes on June 5.
Baffert is suspended pending an investigation into Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit‘s failed postrace drug test. Medina Spirit finished third as the favorite in the Preakness Stakes. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) made the announcement, and until a decision is made, Baffert will be unable to enter horses at Belmont, Aqueduct or Saratoga this summer.
“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,” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
Questions raised about Baffert’s credibility
Baffert denied that he “directly treated” Medina Spirit with betamethasone. He later apologized for the handling of the announcement, and his claims were called out as horseshit. There have been other horses in Baffert’s care who have been disqualified for drug use. Nearly a year ago, Baffert was fighting a two-week ban by the Arkansas Racing Commission after his horses tested positive at Oaklawn Park. That decision was ultimately overturned, but the new allegations in horse racing’s biggest event for the Kentucky Derby are cutting deeper.
Baffert is based at Santa Anita in California. Some of his owners are jumping ship. Spendthrift Farms, which teamed up with Baffert to win last year’s Kentucky Derby with Authentic, has moved five horses from Baffert’s care and training. One is going to Todd Pletcher in New York, with plans to send four others to Richard Mandella.
“Given the circumstances, we thought it was best to hit the pause button,” Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift Farm, told the Daily Racing Form about the farm’s relationship with Baffert.
Bettors are not pausing in their pursuit of Baffert. A class-action lawsuit by aggrieved Kentucky Derby bettors is still in its embryonic stages. But the road to resolving the 2021 Kentucky Derby and its many financial effects, and racing’s ongoing medication debate, continues through a complex, contentious and slow process.
Baffert be damned.