The thoroughbred racing mecca Churchill Downs suspended "reckless" trainer Bob Baffert for two years, officials said Wednesday, following drug test results that threaten his recent Kentucky Derby win.
The ban will last through the spring 2023 season at the Louisville track, according to a statement by Churchill Downs Inc.
The Baffert-trained Medina Spirit won the Run for the Roses on May 1, but has since tested for betamethasone — a medication that's commonly used to treat horses, but must not be in the animal's system on race day, according to state regulations.
Baffert's lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday
“CDI has consistently advocated for strict medication regulations so that we can confidently ensure that horses are fit to race and the races are conducted fairly,” said Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement.
“Reckless practices and substance violations that jeopardize the safety of our equine and human athletes or compromise the integrity of our sport are not acceptable and as a company we must take measures to demonstrate that they will not be tolerated. Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby."
Carstanjen added: "Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Clark Brewster, an attorney for Medina Spirit's owner, Amr Zedan, confirmed to CNBC that a second test of blood from the Kentucky Derby winner detected betamethasone.
"The suspension prohibits Baffert, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all CDI-owned racetracks," the Churchill Downs Incorporated statement said.
"This decision follows the confirmation by attorneys representing Bob Baffert of the presence of betamethasone, a prohibited race-day substance, in Medina Spirit’s bloodstream on the day of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby in violation of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s equine medication protocols and CDI’s terms and conditions for racing."