Del Mar next to come under the Baffert spotlight


As the horse-racing world waits to learn the total fallout from the apparent drug-related disqualification of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, Baffert remains the biggest name — and flammable debate tinder — as Del Mar rushes toward opening its summer meet Friday, writes Bryce Miller.

Should Del Mar ban Baffert from its stalls, as decision-makers did at Churchill Downs and New York mega-tracks Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct? Or is that an abdication of due process for something that happened in another state and remains unresolved until a state regulator, in this case the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, rules — no matter Baffert’s radioactivity?

Del Mar has decided to stay in lockstep with industry practices, matching decisions of regulators in other states. If no ruling from Kentucky arrives this week, doors and stalls remain open to Baffert. If a ban or suspension comes, that will be triggered where the turf meets the surf. Continue reading »


“The wheels of justice turn slowly but grind fine.”

All of the myriad test results are in, and have been in for some time. It is crystal clear that Medina Spirit was indeed treated as was suspected with the banned substance betamethasone, a pain-reducing steroid injected into a horse’s joints, taking away his Kentucky Derby win.

Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen.

“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. “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.”

Hear, hear Mr. Carstanjen.

Medina Spirit (center) gazes from his stall. His connections have let him down very badly.

Following his controversial run in the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit finished 3rd in the Preakness after passing a drug test that allowed him to race in it.

Medina Spirit is not entered in the Belmont Stakes after Baffert was suspended from entering horses at New York racetracks, which of course he is contesting. Baffert also decided to pull the horse from the Haskell, which runs this Saturday July 17th.

Medina Spirit has reportedly only breezed once since the May 15th Preakness. We are very concerned for this horse.



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