The Breeders' Cup board has commenced a review process as to whether Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will be permitted to participate in this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships, the organization said Sept. 18.
Baffert has trained the winners of 17 Breeders' Cup races, ranking second all-time only to D. Wayne Lukas (20). He currently is embroiled in legal battles connected to Zedan Racing Stables' Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Medina Spirit, who tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone in both initial and split-sample blood tests. As betamethasone is not permitted on any level on race day in Kentucky, the finding could lead to the horse's disqualification and disciplinary action against Baffert by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
While no regulatory action has taken place on that failed test, Churchill Downs took action. The trainer currently is suspended from running horses through the spring meet of 2023 at the Louisville track. Churchill Downs Inc. announced Sept. 10 that horses trained by Baffert or his staff are not eligible to receive qualifying points on the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby.
Baffert was granted a preliminary injunction to race in New York July 14 by a United States District Judge after the New York Racing Association sought to suspend him May 17, approximately a week after news of the failed test. NYRA has scheduled a hearing for Baffert to begin Sept. 27 as part of rules and procedures it established in the wake of the injunction that NYRA believes provide a formalized mechanism for a respondent to reply to charges and to participate in a hearing in accordance with due process rights.
The Medina Spirit positive is the latest of five medication violations from Baffert-trained horses in a one-year span.
Breeders' Cup added that their process "will include an opportunity for Mr. Baffert to present his case and will conclude in advance of pre-entry for the 2021 World Championships."
The organization added no further comment would be made at this time.
The pre-entry deadline for the Nov. 5-6 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Del Mar is Oct. 25 at noon PT. Pre-entries will be announced Oct. 27 at 8:30 a.m. PT.
Attorneys for Baffert declined comment.