Trainer Bob Baffert shows off Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit on May 2, 2021. Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Baffert Cleared to Compete at 2021 Breeders’ Cup Under ‘Enhanced’ Testing

Edited Press Release

Trainer Bob Baffert will be allowed to compete at the upcoming World Championships at Del Mar on Nov. 5-6, Breeders’ Cup Ltd announced in a statement on Oct. 17, although runners from the barn of the Hall of Fame conditioner will have undergo “enhanced” protocols including out of competition testing. 

Breeders’ Cup reviewed Baffert’s status for this year’s event given the ongoing fallout with Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Medina Spirit facing potential disqualification after testing positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone in his post-race sample. Betamethasone, a Class C drug, is allowed in Kentucky as a therapeutic. However, state rules require at least a 14-day withdrawl time and any level of detection on race day is a violation.

Though the positive test was confirmed in a split sample, there has not yet been any regulatory action taken the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”), however, announced on June 2 that it was suspending Baffert through the conclusion of the 2023 Spring Meet at Churchill Downs Racetrack. 

The full statement by Breeders’ Cup is as follows:

“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.”