It was announced on Wednesday afternoon that Bob Baffert had been handed a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Racetrack. The decision was made quickly after the second positive test from Medina Spirit was returned on Tuesday.
There hasn’t yet been a response from the trainer or his attorney, but it looks set to be a very unsettling time for connections, as well as the trainer himself, with the decision set to send shockwaves across the sport in the United States.
Positive Second Sample Returned On Tuesday
Many fans of Baffert were keen to emphasize that it was important to wait for the second test result before getting the pitchforks out. However, for many, the writing was already on the wall. Baffert’s doping violations have been going on for too long, and that has been emphasized over the past 12 months, as five of his horses in training have failed tests.
In total, there have been 31 cases over the past 40 years, which leads to questions of any horse in his training. The stance taken by Churchill Downs is a strong one, but one that should rightly be applauded for putting the welfare of the stars of the sport at the forefront.
The statement made by Churchill Downs Racetrack means that Baffert will not be able to have any runners at the track, and that includes those trained by Bob Baffert Racing Stables.
Furthermore, the ban includes the 2023 Spring Meet at the track, which means that the most successful trainer in the history of the Kentucky Derby will be unable to send a runner to the famous Triple Crown for the next two years. As well as Churchill Downs, the trainer will also not be able to send horses to any meeting that is taking place at Churchill Downs INC.
What Happens Next?
This is a quickly evolving story, but the writing is certainly on the wall for the Hall of Famer. The trainer had already been suspended by the NYRA, which meant that he wasn’t able to enter any horses into the prestigious graded races taking place at Belmont Park this coming weekend, including the Belmont Stakes.
The stance of the CEO of Churchill Downs was also important, as Bill Carstanjen batted away any kind of idea that the drug that Medina Spirit was tested positive for was used for medical reasons.
These next couple of days will be huge for the sport, as tracks around the country could opt to take the same stance as both the NYRA and Churchill Downs. The comment of threatening ‘public confidence’ in the sport has been mentioned in both statements over the past month, and it does seem as though the sport in America is at a crossroads.
Matt Irby of the Animal Wellness Action has already claimed that the penalty isn’t sufficient enough and that Baffert will only get the message should the suspension be longer.
Kentucky Derby Result
Kentucky Derby officials revealed after the first test that the outcome of the race wouldn’t be altered until after the second test had returned. Now it has been returned as positive, a decision could be made sooner rather than later, which would see Mandaloun upgraded as the winner of the Kentucky Derby this year.
Any decision would be historical, as there have only been two previous winners of the race disqualified. The most recent of these was Maximum Security, which was downgraded after interfering. Meanwhile, the only previous winner of the race to have tested positive for drug use after the Triple Crown race was Dancer’s Image in 1968.