May 17, 2021 - Sports

Famed horse trainer Bob Baffert suspended by New York racing officials

Medina Spirit at the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Medina Spirit at the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert has been temporarily suspended from "entering horses in races and occupying stall space" at New York's Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, and Aqueduct Racetrack, the New York Racing Association announced Monday.

Why it matters: The ban applies to Baffert's assistants as well, and the move will likely be costly to owners as these races are prominent and lucrative for the winners, per the New York Times.

The big picture: The suspension comes amidst a horse racing scandal after one of Baffert's horses — this year's winner of the Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit — failed a post-race drug test.

  • Though the ultimate cause of Medina Spirit's failed test is still being investigated, last week Baffert admitted that the thoroughbred was being treated with an anti-fungal ointment that contained the steroid found in the test.

Of note: NYRA noted in the statement that the decision to suspend Baffert isn't just about the recent scandal, but also due to the fact that Baffert has a history of his horses failing drug tests.

  • Five of Baffert's horses have failed drug tests in just over the last year, and in total, 30 of his horses have failed tests over the past four decades, per the New York Times.

What they're saying: “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,” Dave O’Rourke, NYRA president and CEO, said in the statement.

  • "That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
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