A three-member panel has suspended Bob Baffert from New York Racing Association tracks for one year. But, because of time served, the embattled trainer would be able to participate in the 2023 Belmont Stakes.
In a Thursday evening news dump, the NYRA announced that Baffert would not be allowed to participate in training or racing events at Belmont, Saratoga or Aqueduct through Jan. 25, 2023, upon factoring in previous time served. The 2023 Belmont Stakes is set for June 10, 2023.
Baffert was unable to compete in the 2022 Belmont Stakes.
NYRA president Dave O’Rourke said in a statement:
“This was an impartial and deliberative process that has resulted in a lengthy suspension of the sport’s most prominent trainer. However, this is not simply about Bob Baffert or any one individual but about protecting the integrity of the sport here in New York. Today’s decision advances that goal.”
A history of medical violations
Hearing officer O. Peter Sherwood had recommended a two-year ban from the NYRA for Baffert following multiple medical violations.
Sherwood wrote in April: “NYRA has reasonably concluded that it will not condone Baffert’s reckless practices, outrageous behavior and substance violations, each of which compromises the integrity of the sport. I conclude that NYRA has reasonably determined that he should be excluded from the racetracks for a lengthy period.”
Baffert had previously been banned from any New York state horse racing activity through at least July 2, as his 90-day suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was recently upheld in court.
The NYRA suspended Baffert in May 2021 after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone. But Baffert sued the NYRA to have the suspension lifted a month later. And a New York federal judge nullified the suspension in mid-July. The judge ruled that NYRA had acted unconstitutionally by failing to let Baffert adequately respond to their claims.
In its allegations against Baffert, NYRA also noted that he had four horses test positive for drug-related violations in the year leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Baffert is one of two trainers to win the Triple Crown twice and the only trainer to win a Triple Crown since 1978. Baffert has three Belmont wins under his belt as well.