Horses trained by Bob Baffert will not be competing at the Preakness Stakes, the Maryland Racing Commission said Monday. The commission honored a 90-day suspension placed on the famous horse trainer by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in February.
“An individual whose license is suspended or revoked in another state or country is suspended or revoked in this state,” J. Michael Hopkins, the executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said.
” … As such, Mr. Baffert will not be eligible to participate in the Preakness Stakes.”
Hopkins wrote as much in a letter to the Center for a Humane Economy, Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation.
The Medina Spirit saga
Baffert has been facing increased scrutiny over the last year. Medina Spirit, the initial 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, tested positive for betamethasone after the race. The drug is an anti-inflammatory that is not a banned substance, but testing showed over double the legal limit in Kentucky.
Medina Spirit was eventually disqualified after a lengthy legal battle. The official winner is now Mandaloun, the original second-place finisher.
In addition to the 90-day suspension handed out in Kentucky, Baffert is also facing a two-year suspension from Churchill Downs. He also is at the center of a class-action lawsuit by bettors who are seeking proper restitution after the altered result.
Below is a timeline of how we got here.
Timeline of events
May 1, 2021 — Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby, and Baffert won his seventh Derby, a record.
May 9, 2021 — Churchill Downs suspended Baffert from entering horses at the racetrack after Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone. Further action was pending additional testing.
May 15, 2021 — Medina Spirit finished third at the 146th Preakness Stakes as the 2-1 betting favorite.
May 17, 2021 — Baffert was temporarily banned from entering horses in races and occupying stalls at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack. Medina Spirit did not race in the Belmont Stakes.
June 2, 2021 — Churchill Downs suspended Baffert for two years through the conclusion of the 2023 spring meet after a second sample confirmed Medina Spirit’s failed test. This was not a state commission ruling, so Baffert’s horses continued to run elsewhere.
Aug. 29, 2021 — Medina Spirit wins the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar.
Oct. 2, 2021 — Medina Spirit wins the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
Nov. 6, 2021 — Medina Spirit finishes second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic behind eventual Horse of the Year Knicks Go.
Dec. 6, 2021 — Medina Spirit died after collapsing in a workout at Santa Anita Park. The California Horse Racing Board said in a statement that “a definitive cause of death could not be established.” The board also said the colt’s condition at the time of death was “compatible with, but not specific for a cardiac cause of death.”
Feb. 21, 2022 — Medina Spirit was officially disqualified, giving the 2021 Kentucky Derby victory to Mandaloun and earning Baffert a 90-day suspension and a $7,500 fine.
April 4, 2022 — Bob Baffert began serving his 90-day suspension.
April 11, 2022 — The Maryland Racing Commission confirmed Baffert will not enter horses at the 2022 Preakness Stakes.
How to prepare for the Preakness
The 147th Preakness Stakes takes place on May 22, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Be sure to check out PlayMaryland’s primer on the April horse racing slate to ramp up for it!