Louisville, Q. (AP) — Bob Baffert is on track to win his record seventh Kentucky Derby victory and will not be able to drive any horse in the prestigious race for the next two years.
Churchill Downs on Wednesday suspended a Hall of Fame trainer for two years after an additional drug test from Medina Spirit confirmed the presence of the steroid betamethasone in the Kentucky Derby winner’s system. The next step could be the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission disqualifying Medina Spirit, and now Baffert will no longer be able to enter any horses in the Derby or other races at the storied track through the spring of 2023.
Bill, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., said: “Reckless practices and substance violations that endanger the safety of our horse and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company we must Measures must be taken to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated.” Carstenzen said. “Mr. Baffert’s record of test failures threatens public confidence in the reputation of racing well and the Kentucky Derby. Given these repeated failures over the past year, including increasingly extraordinary explanations, we strongly believe that these measures It is our duty and responsibility to claim our rights to enforce it.”
Churchill Downs initially suspended Baffert indefinitely pending an investigation and has now said that he reserves the right to extend Baffert’s suspension if there are any other violations in other states. Baffert has five years out of the last 13 months.
Maryland racing officials only allowed the Medina Spirit and Baffert-trained concert tour to run in Preakness on May 15 after it had passed three rounds of prerace testing. New York banned Baffert indefinitely and barred him from entering any horses in the Belmont Stakes.
Churchill Downs’ surprise ban may have had a domino effect that completely left behind the only trainer to win the Triple Crown since 1978. It was not immediately clear whether officials at Preakness and Belmont would follow suit or wait until the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s investigation is complete.
Earlier on Wednesday, lawyers for Baffert and Medina Spirit owner Amar Zedan confirmed that the split-sample test came back positive for betamethasone.
Baffert’s lawyer, Craig Robertson, said the second test showed 25 picograms of steroids, after the first sample found 21 picograms. Even a trace amount of betamethasone — a picogram is one trillionth of a gram — is prohibited on race day in Kentucky, Maryland and New York, home of the sport’s Triple Crown race, and is considered a violation. is.
Robertson said additional testing is being done to find the source of the drug, not the injection, to treat the skin infection. He and Zedan attorney Clark Brewster said they expect tests to show that the ointment is responsible and not injected into one of the horse’s joints.
“I think it will highlight this issue most prominently for us here,” Brewster told The Associated Press over the phone. “The whole premise of listing betamethasone is because it’s injected into a joint and they don’t want you to inject the joints too close to the race, so if it’s a salve, the whole original premise is out the window. and it can be proved scientifically and empirically to be salvageable.”
Rules in Kentucky do not differentiate punishment based on the source of the substance, which can be given to horses to help their joints and Baffert believes the dermatitis came from the ointment. Churchill Downs said Medina Spirit would be disqualified if the split sample came back positive for betamethasone.
A spokesman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. Sherrell Roberts-Pierre said the commission “values fairness and transparency and will provide information to the media and the public at the close of an investigation.”
Brewster said he expects additional tests to return in a week to 10 days.
“At the end of the day, we speculate about this case treating Medina Spirit skin rash with Otomax,” Robertson said. “We won’t have much more to say until additional testing is completed.”
If the Medina Spirit is disqualified, Mandaloon will be promoted as the winner of the May 1 Kentucky Derby.
“I can’t control the outcome of that, so it’s something I think about very little,” said Brad Cox, who coaches Mandlaun and will be the first from Louisville to win the race.
Baffert initially denied wrongdoing, announcing the positive result at a May 9 news conference, which he called “the biggest gut-punch in the race for something I didn’t do.” He later cited antifungal ointment as a possible cause.
When asked whether he thinks test results showing evidence of steroids coming from an ointment would change the results, Brewster said: “You’re asking me to predict others’ behavior and decision-making, but if you Ask me ‘should’ – totally.”
This will be the second Derby disqualification in three years after the 2019 winner, Maximum Security was DQ’d for interference after the race and the Country House declared the winner. The only time a Derby winner was disqualified after the fact of failing a postrace drug test was with the dancer image in 1968.
Whyno reported from New York.
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