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New York Racing Association suspends trainer Bob Baffert

By
Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Trainer Bob Baffert, who has been suspended temporarily in New York, is shown handing Medina Spirit jockey John Velazquez the winner's trophy after winning the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1. Photo by Jason Szenes/UPI
Trainer Bob Baffert, who has been suspended temporarily in New York, is shown handing Medina Spirit jockey John Velazquez the winner's trophy after winning the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1. Photo by Jason Szenes/UPI | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- The New York Racing Association on Monday temporarily suspended trainer Bob Baffert's license and announced it will not allow any of his horses to stable or race at New York tracks pending an investigation into a positive drug test involving Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

The decision means it's unlikely Medina Spirit, who finished third in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday, will not be in the field for the June 5 Belmont Stakes -- the third leg of the Triple Crown.

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The colt tested positive after the Derby for a substance permitted as a treatment for Thoroughbreds, but not allowed to be in their bloodstream on race day. Baffert said the substance may have been an ingredient in a cream used to treat a skin condition afflicting Medina Spirit.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert after the initial finding and the outcome of its proceedings, as with NYRA's, will hinge on a second round of testing of Medina Spirit's blood sample, which could take several weeks.

Pimlico officials allowed Medina Spirit to compete in the Preakness only after he passed three rounds of prerace testing.

"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.

"That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing."

The announcement said NYRA "has taken into account the fact that other horses trained by Mr. Baffert have failed drug tests in the recent past, resulting in the assessment of penalties against him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California and Arkansas."

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