Churchill bans Baffert after split sample confirmation

Many of us hoped that the Day of Reckoning would come for Bob Baffert, but could not conceive of it ever actually happening. Baffert is not called “Teflon Bob” for nothing. So, it has been almost surreal to stand by and watch the events that have unfolded since this year’s Kentucky Derby.

The Blood Horse, a most excellent and widely respected horse racing magazine, posted an article yesterday afternoon entitled, “Churchill bans Baffert after split sample confirmation.” Penned by Claire Crosby and Frank Angst, they write:

Churchill Downs Incorporated has suspended Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert for two years—through the conclusion of the 2023 spring meet at Churchill Downs—the Louisville, Ky.-based company announced June 2.

The suspension comes in the wake of news of a failed secondary test on the Baffert-trained Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Medina Spirit who tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone, a therapeutic medication prohibited on race day in Kentucky. The split sample ordered by Baffert confirmed the positive, attorneys representing Baffert and owner Amr Zedan of Zedan Racing Stables confirmed Wednesday morning.

In announcing its ban, CDI questioned Baffert’s recent record which includes five of his horses failing drug tests since May 2, 2020.

“CDI has consistently advocated for strict medication regulations so that we can confidently ensure that horses are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “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. 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.”

Other tracks can make their own decisions on whether or not to allow horses trained by Baffert to run. The New York Racing Association announced May 17 a temporary suspension of Baffert from its tracks and reiterated Wednesday it had yet to determine the length or terms of the ban.

Suspensions made by regulators are recognized by all regulators throughout the country, but the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said Wednesday that it’s still investigating the case.

Suspensions made by regulators are recognized by all regulators throughout the country, but the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said Wednesday that it’s still investigating the case.

There is a lot more. If you are following this story, we invite you to read the full article.

What about Medina Spirit?

This is how it has stacked up for the horse.

Churchill Downs announced Medina Spirit would be disqualified as the Kentucky Derby winner if a second test — called a “split sample” — came back positive. It did. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is tasked with deciding if Medina Spirit will have the Derby title taken, reports SBNation.

Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness, 5 ½ lengths behind the longshot winner and too far back to sustain mainstream interest through the Belmont Stakes, reports said.

Of course, Medina Spirit has done absolutely nothing wrong. His connections have failed him. He has not failed his connections. Who knows how it will impact his future; where Medina Spirit will end up.

This is horse racing.

Updated 9:30 am.

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FEATURED IMAGE: Medina Spirit, center, peeks from his stall after arriving at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, Md., on May 10, 2021. Getty Images.

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