LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The New York Racing Association today joined Churchill Downs in a temporary suspension of trainer Bob Baffert in the wake of one of his horses, Medina Spirit, testing positive for an impermissible substance in the May 1 Kentucky Derby.
The order will prevent Baffert from entering races or occupying stall space at Belmont Park, Saratoga or Aqueduct.
“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.”
Medina Spirit ran third in the Preakness Stakes over the weekend, but Baffert was not in attendance at Pimlico Race Course.
The NYRA release cited Baffert’s acknowledgement on May 9 that Medina Spirit had tested positive for betamethasone, which is a corticosteroid banned on race days in Kentucky. Churchill noted that a second positive (from a split sample) would result in disqualification as winner of the Kentucky Derby and redistribution of purse money.
Baffert subsequently has acknowledged that the drug may have entered the colt’s bloodstream through topical use in the form of an ointment prescribed for a skin condition. The Kentucky Racing Commission will not render a final verdict until it receives the results from the second test of the sample.
In its statement, NYRA also said it “has taken into account the fact that other horses trained by Mr. Baffert have failed drug tests in the recent past, resulting in the assessment of penalties against him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California, and Arkansas.”
NYRA will make a final determination on the length and terms of Baffert’s suspension after the Medina Spirit investigation is concluded in Kentucky.
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