New York suspends Bob Baffert pending Kentucky Derby probe

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FILE - In this May 22, 2020, file photo, Bob Baffert, two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer, lowers his bandana during an interview while keeping his distance at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Baffert has been temporarily suspended from entering horses at New York racetracks pending an investigation into Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

Bob Baffert was suspended Monday from entering horses at New York racetracks, pending an investigation into Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit's failed postrace drug test.

Baffert will temporarily not be allowed to stable any horses at Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack and Saratoga Race Course or run any of his horses at the New York Racing Association’s tracks. That ban includes races at Belmont Park, with the Belmont Stakes coming up June 5.

“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.”

Baffert had not committed to entering any horses in the third leg of the Triple Crown but had many in consideration for other races on Belmont Stakes day.

NYRA officials say they took into account Baffert's previous penalties in Kentucky, California and Arkansas, along with the current situation with Medina Spirit, and expects to make a final determination about the length and terms of the suspension based in information revealed by Kentucky's ongoing investigation.

Baffert's attorney, Craig Robertson, said in an email to The Associated Press that he is reviewing NYRA's decision and will discuss the situation and legal options with his client before their camp makes any formal statement.

Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone in postrace testing and faces disqualification unless a second test comes back negative. Baffert on May 9 said 21 picograms of the corticosteroid, which can be used to help a horse's joints, showed up in the blood sample.

Baffert a day later said an ointment used to treat Medina Spirit for a skin condition daily up until the Derby included the substance. Even a trace amount of betamethasone in a horse's system is not allowed on race day in Kentucky, Maryland and New York.