A day after Churchill Downs suspended him from entering horses at the track, trainer Bob Baffert defended himself Monday and called the penalty “pretty harsh.”
“We live in a different world now,” Baffert said while appearing on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom With Bell Hemmer & Dana Perino.” “This America is different. It was like a cancel culture kind of a thing.”
On Sunday, Baffert announced that Medina Spirit tested positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug that otherwise is legal but results in a positive when found in the blood on race day.
According to Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations, a second positive test — called a “split sample” — is required before a horse can be disqualified.
On Monday, Baffert said the result of the split sample won’t be known for a while.
WHAT WE KNOW:Can Medina Spirit still race in the Preakness?
“It’s going to take months,” Baffert said. “This isn’t done within a week. … I feel pretty good it’s going to get resolved.”
In a statement released Sunday, Churchill Downs announced the immediate suspension of Baffert and said runner-up Mandaloun would be declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby if the split sample comes back positive.
“Failure to comply with the rules and medication protocols jeopardizes the safety of the horses and jockeys, the integrity of our sport and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby and all who participate,” Churchill Downs said in the release. “Churchill Downs will not tolerate it.”
Baffert plans to run Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in Saturday’s Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore. The draw for that race was postponed until 4 p.m. Tuesday.
But Baffert said he would not accompany the horses to Baltimore because he didn’t want to be a distraction. Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes will take care of the horses there, Baffert said.
Preakness officials released a statement Sunday saying the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Racing Commission would make a decision regarding the entry of Medina Spirit in the Preakness “after review of the facts.”
Baffert said both horses were being taken by van from Churchill Downs to Baltimore on Monday and that he had not “heard anything official” from Pimlico about their eligibility for the Preakness.
Baffert also reiterated his claim from Sunday that he has never used betamethasone on Medina Spirit.
“People in the public don’t understand,” Baffert said. “People in my world, they understand this is all b.s. Bob Baffert’s not stupid. … We don’t use that drug. That horse never had it in him, and we have the documentation.”
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @KentuckyDerbyCJ.