With the Preakness Stakes over, all attention turned to the Belmont to see if the New York race track would allow trainer Bob Baffert to run Medina Spirit, following the horse’s positive drug test following the Kentucky Derby.
On Monday the New York Racing Association (NYRA), which owns Belmont racetrack, as well as two others in the state, reportedly handed down a suspension to the trainer which will not allow him to race
— Lane Gold (@lanegold) May 17, 2021
The NYRA decision means Baffert cannot enter horses at Belmont Park, Aqueduct or Saratoga Race Track, and is the widest ranging suspension the trainer has faced. Earlier this month Baffert was suspended by Churchill Downs following the Kentucky Derby, pending a full investigation into doping allegations against Medina Spirit, which has not yet concluded.
Initial drug tests from the Preakness Stakes were negative for Medina Spirit, who was under close scrutiny following the positive test in Kentucky. Baffert did not attend the Preakness in person, instead sending assistant trainers so as not to be a distraction at the course. Medina Spirit would go on to finish third.
At this time the NYRA suspension is pending the full results of the Churchill Downs investigation, and will make a final determination after those results are made available. Baffert has vehemently defended his actions, saying there was no intention to cheat — blaming a stable hand potentially urinating on horse feed, and even “cancel culture” on the backlash against him. Baffert has 30 horses in his four decade training career be investigated for positive testing and potential doping charges.
Essential Quality and Preakness winner Rombauer are the favorites at the Belmont Stakes in early betting.