Bob Baffert suspended by Churchill Downs after Medina Spirit’s 2nd favorable drug test

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Bob Baffert suspended by Churchill Downs after Medina Spirit’s second positive drug test

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Bob Baffert, fitness instructor of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, stands near the track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, April 28, 2021.

Bryan Woolston | Reuters

“Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby,” the CEO stated.

“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.” 

Churchill Downs Inc. stated it booked the right to extend Baffert’s suspension “if there are additional violations in any racing jurisdiction.”

Baffert on May 9 exposed that Medina Spirit had actually checked favorable for betamethasone, a steroid utilized for restorative functions in horses, in a sample taken the day of its Derby win a week previously. Baffert stated 21 picograms of the drug were discovered in the sample.

The drug, usually utilized to deal with discomfort and swelling in a horse’s joints, is legal for usage in Kentucky.

But any trace of it on race day in the state is premises for disqualification if a 2nd test verifies it remained in the blood on that day.

On Wednesday, attorneys for Medina Spirit’s owner, Amr Zedan, and Baffert revealed that the 2nd test of a blood sample had actually likewise discovered betamethasone.

Clark Brewster, the lawyer for the Zedan, informed CNBC that authorities are enabling the Medina Spirit group to have another laboratory evaluate a 3rd sample from the horse.

That test, Brewster stated, might identify whether there are chemicals that would support Baffert’s claim that the betamethasone might have originated from a topical lotion referred to as Otomax, and not from an injection.

Brewster kept in mind that picogram is simply a trillionth of a gram.

“Hopefully they will make a reasonable judgment,” Brewster stated, describing the evaluation of the drug test results by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

“I think there will be unanimity on the subject that this is an infinitesimal amount that could not have affected the race,” the legal representative stated.

Marty Irby, executive director of the advocacy group Animal Wellness Action, in a declaration, stated that Baffert’s suspension by Churchill Down was a “swift and meaningful action … but the penalty falls short of seeing justice and that track as well as others around the nation should consider a greater penalty for the trainer.”

“He’s sneered at weak penalties for doping violations again and again,” Irby stated. “Baffert will just get the message with a long-lasting suspension from the sport.

“On the advantage, it is reassuring to understand that Baffert will not be enabled to complete at the Kentucky Derby up until after the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act – that prohibits race day doping in the sport – has actually been carried out and taken complete impact.” 

Maryland racing authorities in May enabled Medina Spirit and another Baffert-trained horse, Concert Tour, to get in the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore after getting what they called “a binding dedication” from Baffert for “complete openness of medical and screening results that will permit all outcomes to be launched to the general public.”

Medina Spirit ended up third in the Preakness, the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown, tracking behind the winner, Rombauer, and Midnight Bourbon. Concert Tour ended up ninth.

Disclosure: CNBC moms and dad NBCUniversal owns NBC and NBC Sports, which transmitted the Triple Crown races.

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