Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert will miss the Kentucky Derby for a second straight year after a federal judge denied his request to have a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) overturned.
US District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled Friday that Baffert and his attorneys “failed to carry their burden to demonstrate that the Court should impose a preliminary injunction against CDI’s suspension.”
Baffert, 70, argued, among other things, that his suspension had a negative effect on his business and reputation. Baffert also argued that Churchill Downs would not be affected if he were allowed to compete at the Kentucky Derby in May.
Jennings noted his participation could impact the integrity of the race as he is the only trainer who has had horses test positive in consecutive marquee races on Churchill Downs Inc. tracks.
“Failing to punish trainers whose horses test positive in marquee races could harm CDI’s reputation and the integrity of their races,” Jennings wrote.
CNN has reached out to Baffert’s representation for comment. It is unclear if Baffert’s attorneys intend to appeal the federal judge’s decision.
“Churchill Downs is pleased that the Court denied Mr. Baffert’s demand for a preliminary injunction and granted our motion to dismiss on all but one claim, and on that claim, the Court held that Mr. Baffert did not establish a likelihood of success on the merits,” the company that runs the Louisville racetrack said Friday.
“Today’s opinion is a victory for the integrity of horseracing and we will continue to take action to protect the safety of our human and equine athletes.”
Baffert was banned from all three Triple Crown races last year after Medina Spirit’s victory at the 2021 Kentucky Derby was disqualified.
The Kentucky Derby winner, who died in December 2021, tested positive for betamethasone – an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid sometimes used to relieve joint pain – in a blood sample taken after crossing the finish line first. Kentucky horse racing rules don’t allow that and tell trainers to stop using the therapeutic 14 days before an event.
In February 2022, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced its decision to disqualify Medina Spirit and suspended Baffert for 90 days.
In total, Baffert received a two-year suspension from Churchill Downs, a one-year suspension from the New York Racing Association, and was suspended from the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes in Maryland.
A two-time winner of horse racing’s Triple Crown, Baffert is eligible to enter horses this year at the Preakness Stakes in May and at the Belmont Stakes in June. Baffert’s suspension from the Kentucky Derby expires after the 2023 race.