Baffert fell under scrutiny following the Kentucky Derby this year, after Medina Spirit – his seventh horse to win the esteemed race – tested positive for betamethasone, a substance that is prohibited on race-day in Kentucky.
Baffert denied drugging the horse, and urged critics to wait for an investigation to be completed regarding the explanation for his horse testing positive for corticosteroid. He later acknowledged the horse was treated with an ointment that might have contained the substance.
Following Medina Spirit’s drug test, Churchill Downs suspended the trainer for two years, prompting him to sue the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Baffert was also suspended by the NYRA following the Derby, meaning he was not allowed to enter horses at the Belmont Stakes – which he said cost him big bucks. Baffert sued the NYRA for the losses incurred by the suspension it imposed, and asked that the suspension be put on hold until the completion of his lawsuit against the group.
Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted his request – just one day before the start of the Saratoga summer meet.
“The hardships that Baffert would suffer absent an injunction weigh heavily on the other side of the scale,” Amon wrote in her decision. “The suspension is indefinite, and NYRA concedes at most that Baffert’s claims might “be decided within the year.”
The judge went on to call the 2021 Saratoga summer meet “a one-time opportunity,” pointing out that since “many of the races are limited to horses of a certain age, an inability to compete in these races now means those horses will never have the chance.”