Bob Baffert has been the face of American horse racing for practically 30 years.
His success on the game’s greatest phases and his shock of white hair make him massively recognizable, even to the typical one that doesn’t observe the game exterior of the Kentucky Derby.
He educated American Pharoah to the primary Triple Crown sweep in 37 years in 2015. He repeated the feat with Justify in 2018.
In all, Baffert has received a record-tying six Kentucky Derbies, seven Preaknesses and three Belmonts.
However he received’t be at Churchill Downs on Saturday for the 148th Derby and it isn’t as a result of he doesn’t have any contenders.
WHY IS BAFFERT BANNED FROM THE DERBY?
Churchill Downs Inc. barred Baffert from coming into horses at any of its tracks for this 12 months and thru mid-2023. The punishment resulted from his 2021 Derby winner Medina Spirit failing a post-race drug test and later being disqualified from that victory in a ruling handed down this 12 months.
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Medina Spirit examined constructive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory medicine. It’s allowed in Kentucky however should clear a horse’s system at the very least 14 days earlier than a race. It’s thought of a Class C drug, with a lesser potential to affect efficiency, however any stage of detection on race day is a violation.
On the similar time, the Kentucky Horse Racing Fee suspended Baffert for 90 days due to medicine violations involving the coach’s horses, together with Medina Spirit.
Which means he’ll miss your entire Triple Crown collection: the Derby, Preakness on Might 21 and Belmont Stakes on June 11.
Baffert failed in a number of makes an attempt in Kentucky to overturn the monitor’s ban or the beginning of his suspension, which started April 4.
The 69-year-old Corridor of Fame coach is suing Churchill Downs Inc. in federal court docket to finish his suspension.
Baffert has saddled 34 horses within the Derby — third-most in historical past — since his first look in 1996. Apart from his six wins, he’s had three seconds and three thirds.
This 12 months shall be simply the sixth time he hasn’t had a horse within the race.
WHAT DOES BAFFERT SAY ABOUT MEDINA SPIRIT’S FAILED TEST?
The coach mentioned the constructive take a look at might be defined by an ointment used to treat a skin rash on Medina Spirit. He mentioned a veterinarian really useful an antifungal cream that was utilized day by day. Attorneys for Baffert and Medina Spirit’s proprietor, Amr Zedan, mentioned urine testing performed by a New York lab confirmed the colt was constructive for the anti-inflammatory not through an injection however due to the ointment used.
Kentucky racing officers have mentioned it doesn’t matter how the anti-inflammatory was administered, solely that it was current on race day, which isn’t allowed.
The colt died in early December after a exercise at Santa Anita. Baffert mentioned it was a coronary heart assault. A necropsy did not pinpoint the trigger.
WHAT DOES HIS SUSPENSION MEAN?
The 38 U.S. racing states function on a system of reciprocity, that means if an proprietor, coach or jockey is banned in a single state, the others will honor that.
Homeowners, trainers and jockeys have to be licensed in every state wherein they compete. These licenses are issued by state racing boards.
Baffert is predicated in Southern California, the place the foundations involving suspensions go additional.
Any coach suspended for 60 days or extra is banned from any racing board-licensed amenities. Baffert needed to take away the signage figuring out his barn at Santa Anita and vacate the premises when his suspension started.
WILL ANY FORMER BAFFERT HORSES RUN IN THE DERBY?
Sure. Messier, the early 8-1 third alternative, and early 12-1 shot Taiba are the 2 Kentucky Derby starters who have been beforehand educated by Baffert.
After Baffert’s authorized makes an attempt to overturn his ban and suspension failed in late March, a few of his horses were transferred to other trainers by their homeowners.
HOW DID OTHER TRAINERS END UP TAKING OVER BAFFERT’S HORSES?
Tim Yakteen, a former assistant beneath Baffert who has run his personal steady for 18 years, is overseeing Kentucky Derby contenders Messier and Taiba.
He has no fast ties to Baffert and the homeowners of the horses agreed to the strikes. The homeowners have typically expressed sympathy for Baffert.
Baffert isn’t allowed to contact Yakteen throughout his suspension.
As soon as Messier and Taiba have been transferred, they ran in qualifying races and earned sufficient factors to achieve spots within the 20-horse Derby beginning gate.
HAS BAFFERT BEEN IN TROUBLE BEFORE?
Sure, a number of instances, however that is essentially the most extreme punishment he’s acquired. His filly, Gamine, examined constructive for betamethasone after the 2020 Kentucky Oaks. It’s the identical substance that Medina Spirit examined constructive for after final 12 months’s Kentucky Derby.
Within the Gamine case, which Baffert didn’t enchantment, Kentucky racing officers fined however didn’t droop him. The filly was disqualified from a third-place end and the purse cash she earned was forfeited.
In April 2020, Gamine was disqualified after she received a race at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. That very same day, Charlatan was DQ’d from his victory within the Arkansas Derby. Each horses examined constructive for lidocaine, a neighborhood anesthetic.
Baffert appealed each instances with Arkansas officers, who initially suspended him for 15 days and disqualified each horses. He succeeded in getting the rulings overturned. The horses had their first-place finishes restored and he was fined $5,000 for every constructive take a look at.
Arkansas officers mentioned the constructive exams didn’t impression the horses’ performances and that they have been the results of inadvertent contamination. Baffert blamed the constructive exams on a ache patch worn by an assistant who saddled each horses.
WHEN CAN BAFFERT RETURN TO RACING?
His suspension ends July 2. That provides him time to arrange for the beginning of the summer time assembly at Del Mar, the San Diego-area monitor that opens July 22.
Final week, a hearing officer recommended a two-year suspension for Baffert in New York for repeated medicine violations involving his horses that occurred in different states. The suspension should nonetheless be permitted by a New York Racing Affiliation panel. If permitted, it could go into impact after the tip of his 90-day suspension by Kentucky officers.
Baffert plans to contest the ruling that might hold him from coming into horses at Saratoga in upstate New York when its summer time season begins July 14.
He’ll be again in time to enter horses in November on the Breeders’ Cup, the 2 richest days in North American racing. The occasion is at Keeneland, a Kentucky monitor not owned by Churchill Downs Inc.
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