Bob Baffert Suspended Through Kentucky Derby After Medina Spirit Officially Disqualified As 2021 Winner

Bob Baffert Suspended Through Kentucky Derby After Medina Spirit Officially Disqualified As 2021 Winner article feature image

Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Bob Baffert

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was handed a 90-day suspension and fined $7,500 on Monday after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission officially disqualified 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

The suspension effectively ends any chance the Hall of Fame trainer enters any horse he trains in this year's 148th running of the Derby, which is set for May 7 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. According to reports, Baffert attorney Craig Robertson plans to appeal the decision, which must take place in the next 10 days.

Oddsmakers have listed horses trained by Baffert in futures pools despite the fact they're ineligible to receive Derby points in this year's prep races due to the fact was he suspended from running any horses at Churchill Downs for two years after Medina Spirit's confirmed positive test.

Baffert, who trained Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018), announced after the race his 3-year-old champion tested positive for betamethasone — a  corticosteroid and banned race-day drug. Medina Spirit passed away following a training session Dec. 6 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. There was no cause of death listed in the horse's necropsy.

CHRB: ‘Definitive Cause Of Death Not Established’ In Medina Spirit Necropsy – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

— Paulick Report (@paulickreport) February 11, 2022

Medina Spirit edged out Mandaloun to capture last year's $3 million race. Mandaloun, trained by Brad Cox, will now be declared the winner. The victory makes Cox the first Louisville native to win the Derby as a trainer.

In the days after the race, Action Network's Darren Rovell confirmed at the time bettors who had Medina Spirit kept their winnings and could still cash outstanding tickets if they hadn't already. Rovell reported that bettors filed a lawsuit against Baffert and the horse's connections.

Baffert standout Newgrange triumphed in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes on Jan. 29 at Oaklawn Park (Hot Springs, Arkansas) in a key Derby prep race, but didn't collect the 10 points awarded to the winner.

Newgrange, along with any other horses currently trained by Baffert, would be allowed to compete in the annual "Run for the Roses" if they're moved to another trainer ahead of the race and out of his care. Baffert, who trains Derby hopeful Messier, has one of the early futures favorites in Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion Corniche in his barn as well.

Baffert has a record seven Kentucky Derby wins, seven Preakness Stakes victories and three Belmont Stakes wins in his career. The connections of Medina Spirit, who went off at 12-1 odds after finishing a distant second in the Santa Anita Derby, was set to receive $1.86 million of the purse. Those winnings are now forfeited following the commission's decision.

The decision against Baffert, who had already had four medication violations since May 2020, casts a darker cloud on arguably the most successful trainer in the sport's history.

On April 20, Baffert caught a break when the Arkansas Racing Commission restored the 2020 victories of Charlatan in a division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and Gamine in an Allowance Optional Claiming race.

Oaklawn Park stewards had disqualified both Baffert horses from their May 2 wins after lidocaine was discovered in post-race samples. Baffert received a 15-day suspension for those infractions, but ultimately wound up with a $5,000 fine after the Arkansas commission reversed the decision.

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