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Legendary Trainer Bob Baffert to Miss 3rd Straight Run for the Roses

Baffert Is Expected to Enter Horses for Preakness and Belmont

Maybe 2025 Will Be the Year…

The 150th running of the Kentucky Derby is a seminal event for horse racing fans all over the globe. But this coming Saturday it will be without Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has been suspended from the Derby for what is now three consecutive years.

Medina Spirit Scandal

Medina Spirit, a dark bay colt, and progeny of Brilliant Speed and Mongolian Changa, won the 2021 Kentucky Derby, and his trainer, Bob Baffert, had amassed yet another ring of roses to adorn his already burgeoning collection from winning six previous Derby events.

Legendary Trainer Bob Baffert to Miss 3rd Straight Run for the Roses
Trainer Bob Baffert | Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

However, the victory was short-lived as the champion horse showed traces of betamethasone in a post-race blood test. The drug can be used for therapeutic use but it requires a 14-day withdrawal time to exit the system and cannot be present in the horse at race time.

Ultimately, this led to Medina Spirit being disqualified and Kentucky Derby rumors also rang true when it was announced that Baffert would be suspended by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) for two years. This made horse racing news as it meant Baffert was unable to run any of his horses at Churchill Downs or any of their other horse tracks.

A legal battle ensued and despite Baffert withdrawing all legal action against CDI in January 2024, the powers that be have decided to extend his banishment for at least one more year.

“A trainer who is unwilling to accept responsibility for multiple drug test failures in our highest-profile races cannot be trusted to avoid future misconduct,” CDI said in extending the suspension. “Mr. Baffert will remain suspended from entering horses at all racetracks owned by CDI through 2024. After such time, we will re-evaluate his status.”

 

What’s Next?

Baffert’s banishment by Churchill Downs Inc. does not necessarily have any bearing on him saddling horses at other tracks. Last year’s Preakness winner, National Treasure, was a Baffert-trained horse and became his 17th Triple Crown winner. Baffert also saddled Country Grammer, the winner of the $12 million Dubai World Cup in 2022.

 

Although many owners reluctantly pulled their horses from Baffert in the previous two years, understanding their horses would not be Kentucky Derby eligible with Baffert as their trainer, this year many did return assuming his suspension from Churchill Downs had been served.

However, now that CDI has extended Baffert’s exile, the field at the Preakness and Belmont is expected to be even better and deeper than the 20 Derby entries and two alternates currently entered. Baffert has at least two top-tier thoroughbreds, Muth and Imagination, expected to enter the second and third legs of the Triple Crown.

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