Kentucky racing board confirms suspension of Bob Baffert

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FILE – Coach Bob Baffert stands outside his barn at Churchill Downs Monday, May 2, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. Medina Spirit was stripped of last years victory in the Kentucky Derby and Mandaloun was declared the winner in a decision by state race stewards on Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, FIle)

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Kentucky racing officials denied coach Bob Baffert’s request to waive his suspension for a failed post-race drug test by Medina Spirit that led to his disqualification as the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

On Friday, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission board members voted 10-0 with three abstentions against the stay at a specially called meeting. KHRC stewards last week suspended the Hall of Fame trainer for 90 days with a $7,500 fine and disqualified the now deceased colt for having the corticosteroid betamethasone in his system last May. Betamethasone is allowed in Kentucky but banned on race day.

Director Marc A. Guilfoil denied an initial request for a suspension suspension, which was scheduled to begin March 8, but is delayed pending a March 17 hearing before Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate .

Clark Brewster, an attorney for Baffert, argued that the steroid came from a topical ointment rather than an injection. KHRC General Counsel Jennifer Wolsing countered that the source of the betamethasone was irrelevant and cited Baffert’s failure to deliver on promises to improve his functioning after a string of positive results from his horses.

Brewster, in a statement afterwards, called the KHRC’s decision a “sudden and arbitrary deviation from its own 100-year-old precedent” and added that he was looking forward to a stay of court appearances.

Baffert sued Churchill Downs in federal court on Tuesday, seeking to overturn his two-year suspension because he did not receive due process. The track recognized Derby runner-up Mandaloun as the winner of the race. Medina Spirit died Dec. 6 of a heart attack following a practice session at the Santa Anita track in California.

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