The New York Racing Association (NYRA) suspended well-known trainer Bob Baffert on Monday, the association announced. The suspension means Baffert cannot enter horses at Belmont or any NYRA track. He is also not allowed to have a barn or stall at the three tracks that apply in the suspension. The Belmont Stakes are set for June 5.
Baffert has been in the spotlight not just for winning races, but also for having horses fail drug tests. He had five horses fail drug tests in the last six months. The latest scandal came after the Kentucky Derby, when his horse Medina Spirit won the race and then failed a drug test after the victory. Baffert insisted his team did nothing wrong and even claimed his horse was a victim of "cancel culture."
The NYRA said it was temporarily suspending Baffert and "will not accept entries or provide stall space to any individual employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables." The NYRA also said it "expects to make a final determination regarding the length and terms of Mr. Baffert's suspension based on information revealed during the course of the ongoing investigation in Kentucky, such as the post-Kentucky Derby test results of Medina Spirit.'
"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."
Baffert was adamant his horses would run in last weekend's Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, and even threatened legal action if he was not able to participate. Medina Spirit was cleared for the race, but with stipulations included more drug tests. The horse ended up coming in third in the race.
The Belmont Stakes are the next and final event in the Triple Crown, and as it appears Baffert will not have any horses present.