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Baffert Suspended By Maryland Racing Commission, Ineligible For Preakness

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) -- The Maryland Racing Commission has suspended horse trainer Bob Baffert, barring him from running horses in the upcoming 147th Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.

Baffert was also suspended for 90 days by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, California Horse Racing Board, and the New York State Gaming Commission for drug violations in the 2021 Kentucky Derby with the late Medina Spirit.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert last spring through 2023 and cited a recent spate of failed drug tests by his horses including now-deceased colt Medina Spirit after he won the Kentucky Derby. A postrace drug test revealed the corticosteroid betamethasone in his system, which is allowed in Kentucky but prohibited on race day.

Prior to the 2021 Preakness Stakes, Baffert, who's won the middle jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown seven times, and the Maryland Jockey Club agreed to blood sample testing of the horse. Medina Spirit passed all three of his drug tests before running in the second jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown, Maryland racing officials said. The samples were taken on May 6, May 10 and May 11.

In a federal lawsuit against sued Churchill Downs and track leadership, Baffert and his representatives have argued that the steroid in Medina Spirit came from the topical ointment Otomax, rather than an injection that is banned. Attorney Clark Brewster stated in a release Tuesday that Churchill Downs is not tasked with relegating horse racing in Kentucky but "could unilaterally ban" a trainer without having facts or any semblance of due process.

Medina Spirit died on Dec. 6 from what Baffert said was a heart attack following a workout at Santa Anita race track in California. A necropsy revealed no definitive cause for his death.

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