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Churchill Downs Suspends Trainer Bob Baffert

J. Tyler Franklin

  Churchill Downs has indefinitely suspended Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. 

The announcement came following a Sunday morning press conference where Baffert said Medina Spirit, this year’s race winner, failed a postrace drug test. 

Medina Spirit won the 147th Kentucky Derby by a ½ length over second place competitor Mandaloun, but if Kentucky horse racing officials uphold the findings, this year’s first place winner could be disqualified. 

“To be clear, if the findings are upheld, Medina Spirit’s results in the Kentucky Derby will be invalidated and Mandaloun will be declared the winner,” Churchill Downs said in a release.

At a press conference outside Baffert’s barn at Churchill Downs the trainer said Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of the drug betamethasone. 

That’s the same drug found in the system of another Baffert-trained horse that was disqualified from the Kentucky Oaks last year. The anti-inflammatory drug is legal, but Baffert says the horse tested double acceptable limits. 

Churchill Downs said Baffert has requested a test of a split sample to confirm the results.

Following the announcement, Churchill Downs suspended Baffert from entering any horses at the track. 

“Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate. Churchill Downs will not tolerate it,” Churchill downs said in the release. 

Wagering from this year’s Kentucky Derby totaled $233 million. 

Medina Spirit is expected to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, on Saturday, May 15.

Ryan Van Velzer has told stories of people surviving floods in Thailand, record-breaking heat in Arizona and Hurricane Irma in South Florida. He has worked for The Arizona Republic, The Associated Press and The South Florida Sun Sentinel in addition to working as a travel reporter in Central America and Southeast Asia. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Ryan is happy to finally live in a city that has four seasons.
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