No Kentucky Derby this year for hall-of-fame horse trainer Bob Baffert. This will be the second year Baffert will miss the derby following his suspension by US gambling and racing firm Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI).
Over the weekend, US District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled that Baffert and his attorneys “failed to carry their burden to demonstrate that the Court should impose a preliminary injunction against CDI’s suspension.”
Baffert out of Kentucky Derby for second year
In a statement, CDI said:
“Churchill Downs is pleased that the court denied Mr. Baffert’s demand for a preliminary injunction and granted our motion to dismiss on all but one claim, and on that claim, the court held that Mr. Baffert did not establish a likelihood of success on the merits. [Friday’s] opinion is a victory for the integrity of horseracing and we will continue to take action to protect the safety of our human and equine athletes.”
Baffert argued that his suspension harmed his business and reputation. The hall-of-fame trainer also said the Kentucky Derby would not be affected should he be allowed to compete in the race.
However, Jennings disagreed. In her ruling, Jennings noted Baffert’s participation could impact the integrity of the race as he is the only trainer who has had horses test positive in consecutive marquee races.
“Failing to punish trainers whose horses test positive in marquee races could harm CDI’s reputation and the integrity of their races,” Jennings wrote.
No Derby but Baffert can return to racing
Baffert’s suspension originated after Medina Spirit, who won the 2021 Kentucky Derby, tested positive for betamethasone. Betamethasone is an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid that trainers sometimes use to relieve joint pain. Kentucky horse racing rules say trainers must stop using the therapeutic 14 days before an event.
Overall, Baffert was not able to participate in all three races that make up the Triple Crown.
- Kentucky Derby: 2-year suspension (Kentucky)
- Preakness Stakes: 1-year suspension (Maryland)
- Belmont Stakes: 1-year suspension (New York)
Baffert’s suspension from the Kentucky Derby expires after the 2023 race. Baffert can enter horses at the Preakness in May and the Belmont Stakes in June.