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Churchill Downs Hits Star Trainer With 2-Year Suspension

Bob Baffert will be barred from company tracks after second Medina Spirit drug test confirmed first
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2021 6:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – After a second test on his Kentucky Derby winner came back positive for a banned steroid, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended by Churchill Downs. The punishment will last till the end of the 2023 spring meet, the Washington Post reports. "Substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable," chief executive Bill Carstanjen said in a statement Wednesday. "Mr. Baffert's record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby." The suspension followed the announcement that a sample tested from Medina Spirit found a prohibited level of betamethasone. Five of Baffert's horses have failed drug tests this year, per CNBC.

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Under the terms of the punishment, no horse trained by Baffert or Bob Baffert Racing Stables can compete at any track that Churchill Downs owns. That covers the Kentucky Derby, which Medina Sprit won on May 1 before testing positive for betamethasone. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has not yet announced whether it will disqualify Medina Spirit in that race. Use of the drug is legal in Kentucky, but if any trace shows up on race day, the horse can be disqualified, per CNBC, provided a second test confirms the result. A lawyer for Medina Spirit's owner said another lab will check a third sample from the horse, adding that "this is an infinitesimal amount that could not have affected the race." Marty Irby of Animal Wellness Action urged Churchill Downs to make Barrert's suspension permanent. "It's time to end the cheating and medication abuse," Irby said. (Read more Bob Baffert stories.)

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