Baffert denied stay of suspension by commission

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky’s racing director has denied trainer Bob Baffert’s request to stay his suspension by stewards in their ruling that also disqualified Medina Spirit as Kentucky Derby winner.

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards on Monday suspended Baffert for 90 days, effective March 8 through June 5, and fined the Hall of Fame trainer $7,500. They also stripped the now-deceased Medina Spirit of the victory for testing positive for the steroid betamethasone following the Derby last May 1.

Churchill Downs subsequently elevated runner-up Mandaloun to Derby winner after the stewards’ ruling. The historic track previously suspended Baffert for two years, citing a series of positive tests by his horses.

Marc A. Guilfoil, director of the KHRC, on Friday sent a letter to Baffert’s attorneys that said he did “not find good cause” to stay the rulings. Guilfoil added that the attorneys could petition for a review of his decision.

Attorney Clark Brewster countered in a statement that the commission “has always granted” stays to ensure a trainer does not suffer from a wrongful decision that is later reversed on appeal.

“The Commission has apparently decided that Bob Baffert should be treated differently than everyone who came before him,” said Brewster, who added he expects the move to be reversed in court. “This should be seen for what it is: a deliberate, capricious, and malicious effort to deny Bob Baffert his right to appeal the stewards’ ruling under Kentucky law, and to ensure that Bob must suffer even if he ultimately prevails on appeal.”

Baffert is considered the face of horse racing after he guided horses to the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2018. Medina Spirit finished half a length ahead of Mandaloun in the Derby, giving Baffert what was then his seventh title in the race.

Medina Spirit collapsed and died on Dec. 6 of a heart attack following a training run at Santa Anita in Arcadia, California. His ashes will be interred at a retirement farm for thoroughbred horses in Kentucky, it was announced Friday.

Old Friends said the colt’s ashes will be interred in a memorial garden alongside 1999 Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic and 2002 Derby winner War Emblem.