(NEW YORK) — The New York Racing Association has announced a temporary suspension for horse trainer Bob Baffert from Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course.
His horse Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby, but a post-race test showed the horse tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance. Should a second positive result come back, Medina Spirit will be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby.
“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,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
On May 9, Baffert announced Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone and said he was starting an investigation.
Two days later, Baffert released a statement through his lawyer saying Medina Spirit was given an anti-fungal ointment Otomax after developing dermatitis following the Santa Anita Derby. Medina Spirit was given the ointment daily up until the day before the Kentucky Derby.
Bob Baffert Tuesday statement below explains that Otomax, an ointment he says was recommended by his vet to treat dermatitis on Medina Spirit’s hind end, includes betamethasone.
Baffert also states that 21 picograms of betamethasone would have had no effect on the KYD outcome. pic.twitter.com/zQXCfJhdIH
— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) May 11, 2021
The statement goes on to say on May 10, he was made aware that the ointment contained the banned substance and equine experts say that could be the cause of the positive test.
Before last weekend’s Preakness Stakes, Maryland officials required Medina Spirit, Concert Tour, and Black-Eyed Susan runner Beautiful Gift – both trained by Baffert- to undergo three rounds of pre-race testing.
All three passed and were allowed to race. Medina Spirit finished third and Concert Tour ninth in the Preakness Stakes. Beautiful Gift finished seventh at the Black-Eyed Susan on Friday.
Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, applauded the decision saying “horse protection advocates will rest easier knowing that Baffert won’t be competing at the 2021 Belmont Stakes,” adding “the State of New York continues to make the welfare of the horse, and eradicating cheaters from the industry, a top priority.”
During the suspension, Baffert will not be able to run any horses or occupy stalls at the three tracks.
The NYRA took into consideration other horses Baffert trained that failed drug tests, including recent penalties in Kentucky, California, and Arkansas. They will make a final ruling based on information revealed during the investigation in Kentucky.
The Belmont Stakes takes place on June 5.
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