Bob Baffert the trainer of Medina Spirit talks to the media during the training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 29, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Andy Lyons | Getty Images
The trainer Bob Baffert was temporarily suspended Monday from entering horses — including Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit — in next month’s Belmont Stakes or races at other major New York tracks due to Medina Spirit’s positive test for a banned drug after its Derby victory.
The suspension comes two days after Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness Stakes — the second jewel in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown — and as Baffert awaits a second test that could erase Medina Spirit’s Derby win.
Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone, 11 picograms above the legal limit, on the day of the Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
The New York Racing Association said its decision to bar Baffert’s horses, for now, took into account not only the Derby probe, but also “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.”
The suspension applies to any Baffert horses entering races or occupying stall space at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack, the state’s three major thoroughbred racing venues.
John Velazquez guides Medina Spirit to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Jamie Rhodes | USA TODAY Sports | Reuters
New York Racing Association CEO Dave O’Rourke said, “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.”
“That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing,” O’Rourke said.
The racing association said it “expects to make a final determination regarding the length and terms of Mr. Baffert’s suspension based on information revealed during the course of the ongoing investigation in Kentucky, such as the post-Kentucky Derby test results of Medina Spirit.”
Maryland racing officials last week allowed Medina Spirit and another Baffert-trained horse, Concert Tour, to enter the Preakness after getting what they called “a binding commitment” from Baffert for “full transparency of medical and testing results that will allow for all results to be released to the public.
Rombauer won the Preakness, followed by Midnight Bourbon and Medina Spirit. Concert Tour finished ninth.
The Belmont Stakes, which is the third leg of the Triple Crown, is scheduled for June 5.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC and NBC Sports, which broadcast the Triple Crown races.