UPDATE: Churchill Downs suspends Baffert for two years
UPDATE POSTED 4 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2021
LOUISVILLE, KY. (WTVQ) – Churchill Downs Incorporated announced Wednesday the
suspension of Bob Baffert for two years effective immediately through the conclusion of the 2023 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs Racetrack.
The suspension prohibits Baffert, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at
all CDI-owned racetracks. This decision follows the confirmation by attorneys representing Bob Baffert of the presence of betamethasone, a prohibited race-day substance, in Medina Spirit’s bloodstream on the day of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby in violation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s equine medication protocols and CDI’s terms and conditions for racing.
“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.”
CDI reserves the right to extend Baffert’s suspension if there are additional violations in any racing jurisdiction.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has the sole authority to disqualify Medina Spirt as
the winner of Kentucky Derby 147. It is the understanding of CDI that the KHRC is pursuing the completion of its investigation of this matter in accordance with its rules and regulations.
Churchill Downs Incorporated is a racing, online wagering and gaming entertainment company anchored by its flagship event, the Kentucky Derby. It owns and operates three parimutuel gaming entertainment venues with approximately 3,050 historical racing machines in Kentucky.
It also owns owns and operates TwinSpires, one of the largest and most profitable online wagering platforms for horse racing, sports and iGaming in the U.S. and it has seven retail sportsbooks. And it is the leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming in eight states with approximately 11,000 slot machines and video lottery terminals and 200 table games.
ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 11 A.M. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2021
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/KATC) – A second drug test of a sample taken from Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit following last month’s race has also come up positive for an illegal substance, according to the New York Times and CNBC.
The second test, taken at the request of trainer Bob Baffert, means the horse is a step closer to becoming just the second Derby winner to later be disqualified in the race’s 147-year history. A decision from Churchill Downs has not been made.
However, a post-race drug test showed that the horse tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance. Following the positive test, Churchill Downs suspended Baffert from racing horses at the track.
Baffert claims that Medina Spirit had been treated with Otomax earlier this year for a case of dermatitis. He said the vet that applied the ointment was unaware that betamethasone was an active ingredient in the medication.
Reports of the confirmed test brought swift response from animal welfare groups.
“The news of Medina Spirit’s second test confirmed positive is no shock. Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission must stand firmly together in agreement to take the 2021 Derby title away from Bob Baffert and the horse,” said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action which worked with members of Congress last year to pass the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act that was signed into law in December.
“And we call on Churchill Downs to show no mercy and permanently ban Bob Baffert and his horses from the Kentucky Derby and all of Churchill Downs’ tracks. It’s time to end the cheating and medication abuse in the fastest two minutes in sports and an example must be made,” Irby added.
The only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Derby is Dancer’s Image in 1968, the Associated Press reports.
Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness Stakes last month, ending his Triple Crown bid. In mid-May, the New York Racing Association suspended Baffert from entering horses at Belmont Park, meaning the horse could not compete at the upcoming Belmont Stakes.