The New York Racing Association (NYRA) on Monday banned Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert from entering horses in races or stabling them at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course or Aqueduct Racetrack.
That means Medina Spirit, which won a now-contested Kentucky Derby and finished third in the Preakness Stakes, will not run in the Belmont Stakes on June 5. NYRA said its final determination for the length and terms of Babbert’s suspension depends on whether Churchill Downs receives a second test confirming an initial positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone for the horse on the day of the Derby.
That would also invalidate Medina Spirit’s first-place finish in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
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“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,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
Medina Spirit was allowed to run the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course after passing three pre-race drug tests. Baffert, who did not attend the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, has five medication-involved violations over the past 13 months. NYRA said its decision also took into account other horses trained by Baffert that produced failed tests in thoroughbred races in Arkansas, California and Kentucky.
Craig Robertson, who represents Baffert, told the Associated Press that he will review NYRA’s decision and discuss the situation with his client before making any formal statement.