With Conditions, Baffert Cleared To Participate in 2021 Breeders' Cup - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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With Conditions, Baffert Cleared To Participate in 2021 Breeders’ Cup

Bob Baffert greets jockey John Velazquez after Medina Spirit’s victory in the Awesome Again Stakes Oct. 2

Bob Baffert, the all-time leading Breeders' Cup trainer by money won, will be allowed to participate at this year's world championships on Nov. 5-6 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., Breeders' Cup said in a statement on Sunday. Baffert's participation will be contingent on certain conditions being met, including enhanced out-of-competition testing of his horses and enhanced security at his barn.

On Sept. 18, the Breeders' Cup said it would be conducting a review process to determine Baffert's status in the wake of a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the Protonico colt finished first in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1.

The Medina Spirit positive test for the corticosteroid betamethasone was the fifth failed drug test by a Baffert runner – and third in a Grade 1 race – over a one-year period dating back to May 2, 2020.

Stewards have yet to conduct a hearing on the Medina Spirit positive while attorneys for Baffert and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission have battled in court over testing of the split sample. Baffert is also engaged in a legal fight with the New York Racing Association, which attempted to ban the trainer from participating at its tracks.

Churchill Downs Inc. said it would not permit Baffert to stable or race at its facilities, including the flagship track in Louisville, Ky., where the Kentucky Derby is run. The Churchill Downs ban extends until the end of the 2023 spring meeting, effectively banning Baffert from the next two Kentucky Derbies.

Horses under Baffert's care will also not be awarded qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs officials have said. Among the official Derby qualifying points races is the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Nov. 5, where Baffert has two leading contenders, G1 American Pharoah Stakes winner Corniche and G1 Del Mar Futurity winner Pinehurst. The latter was co-bred by former Breeders' Cup chairman Fred W. Hertrich III and co-owned by current chair Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables. Baffert has several other contenders in Breeders' Cup races, including Medina Spirit, who is pointing to the G1 Classic; Gamine, who is aiming to defend her title in the G1 Filly & Mare Sprint; and Private Mission, who is pointing for the G1 Distaff.

Following is the statement issued on Sunday by Breeders' Cup:

“Breeders' Cup conducts thoroughbred racing at the highest levels of safety and integrity for the benefit of our horses, riders, participants, fans, and bettors. To this end, the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors convened a special review under legal counsel to evaluate the recent conduct of Mr. Bob Baffert in order to determine whether he should be permitted to participate in the 2021 World Championships. In the interest of fairness, Mr. Baffert was provided with advanced notice and an opportunity to take part in the process, and the Board appreciated his participation and cooperation in connection with its inquiries.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances, Breeders' Cup has decided to require all horses trained by Mr. Baffert to undergo enhanced out-of-competition, pre- and post-race testing and other security protocols, at his own expense, in order to participate in the 2021 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Del Mar.

“In addition to operating under the rules and regulations of both the California Horse Racing Board and Del Mar for the 2021 World Championships, those competing in any Breeders' Cup race are subject to another set of rules specific to the Breeders' Cup, which include the Breeders' Cup Condition of Entry, the Prohibited Substance Rule and the Convicted Trainer Rule. On top of our industry-leading protocols and standards, additional testing and security requirements for any horse under Mr. Baffert's care will be administered at his expense under a signed agreement to provide a more targeted layer of accountability. These additional measures include increased randomized out-of-competition testing for all prohibited and restricted substances, additional tests administered the week of the World Championships, increased veterinarian and security checks, and in-person 24-hour security surveillance ahead of the horse or horses' respective events. Mr. Baffert has agreed to abide by each of these additional measures.

“Working with horses and competing in the World Championships is a privilege, and medication restrictions and testing protocols are in place for a reason. The Breeders' Cup expects Mr. Baffert's complete cooperation in ensuring that every horse under his care is in full compliance with all medication restrictions and safety standards.

“Breeders' Cup looks forward to the uniform rules and enforcement mechanisms that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's antidoping and medication control program will bring to our sport.”

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