Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert won’t have a horse in the race at this year’s Preakness Stakes.
The Maryland Racing Commission on Monday suspended Baffert — a move that makes him ineligible from running horses at the 147th Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on May 21. Maryland’s commission joins those from New York, California and Kentucky to suspend the trainer for his drug violations with Medina Spirit at last year’s Kentucky Derby.
The commission’s executive director sent a letter to animal welfare groups that were calling for Baffert’s suspension, including the Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.
“We applaud the Maryland Racing Commission for taking swift and decisive action against infamous trainer Bob Baffert to protect the integrity of the 147th Preakness and more importantly, protect the horses themselves,” said Marty Irby, senior vice president at the Center for a Humane Economy and executive director at Animal Wellness Action, in a press release. “Authorities in American horse racing have made it clear from sea to shining sea that Bob Baffert’s shenanigans will not be tolerated at any of the three Triple Crown races or in Baffert’s home state.”
Earlier this year, Baffert was suspended by Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby’s parent company, for two years. Baffert is suing the company, calling the punishment “malicious.” The federal lawsuit came a week after Medina Spirit was stripped of his Kentucky Derby win last year due to a failed drug test.
Medina Spirit, who died in December of an apparent heart attack, tested positive after the race in May 2021 for a steroid, betamethasone, that is legal in Kentucky but banned on race day.
Baffert is considered one of the best trainers in the history of racing, leading his horses to 17 American Classic victories and the only two Triple Crown winners (American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018) since 1979.
• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at email@example.com.
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