Bob Baffert was unlikely to enter Belmont Stakes even before temporary ban

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, trainer Bob Baffert watches his Kentucky Derby entrant Game Winner.
Bob Baffert was suspended Monday from entering horses at New York racetracks.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Trainer Bob Baffert has been temporarily banned from racing in New York by the New York Racing Assn. in light of the recent positive drug test on Medina Spirit after winning the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert has not been charged with anything pending the results of a split sample. He announced the positive for betamethasone on May 9 after he was informed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission of the initial drug screening. Churchill Downs then suspended the Hall of Fame trainer from racing at its track.

In the case of both suspensions, they are mostly symbolic in that Baffert does not have many horses at Churchill Downs and was unlikely to enter any horses in the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, in less than three weeks. He may have entered a few horses on the Belmont undercard but that option has been taken from him.


“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 Dave O’Rourke, NYRA president and chief executive.

Craig Robertson, Baffert’s Kentucky-based attorney, said that he and Baffert are reviewing the NYRA decision and there would be no formal statement until that process is final.

Baffert announced that Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a legal drug but not one that is allowed to be in a horse’s system on race day. Betamethasone is not considered a performance-enhancer and is used to treat inflammation. In this case, Baffert said the horse was treated with an ointment that contained the medication for dermatitis on his hind quarter.

Medina Spirit and stablemate Concert Tour were allowed to run in the Preakness Stakes last Saturday after passing three prerace drug tests. Medina Spirit ran third and Concert Tour was ninth. Neither was expected to go on to the Belmont Stakes on June 5.