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Bob Baffert Denies Cheating at Kentucky Derby, Will 'Fight' for Medina Spirit Legacy

Doric SamMay 6, 2022

DEL MAR, CA- NOVEMBER 6:  Trainer Bob Baffert at Del Mar Race Track on November 6, 2021 in Del Mar, California. (Photo by Horsephotos/Getty Images)
Horsephotos/Getty Images

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is not done fighting to defend the legacy of Medina Spirit.

Baffert, who is suspended from the Kentucky Derby, told ESPN that he is still trying to restore Medina Spirit's 2021 victory at Churchill Downs after the horse tested positive for an anti-inflammatory medication following the race.

"Who would've thought an ointment—an ointment—took down the Kentucky Derby winner," Baffert said. "That's just not right. And that's something that we're going to, you know, we're gonna fight vigorously to save that horse's Kentucky Derby, because he ... deserved the win."

A six-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, Baffert will not be in attendance Saturday for the 148th running. He is also banned from competing in the Preakness on May 21 and the Belmont Stakes on June 11, which are the other two races that make up the Triple Crown.

Medina Spirit was disqualified from last year's win after testing positive for betamethasone. The anti-inflammatory medication is required to be cleared from a horse's system at least 14 days before a race. 

Churchill Downs Inc. ruled that Baffert is banned from entering his horses at any of its tracks for this year and through mid-2023. The 38 other racing states have honored that ruling based on the longstanding system of reciprocity. Baffert maintains that he "never got my due process with Churchill Downs."

Medina Spirit died on Dec. 6 caused by a heart attack after a workout, according to Baffert. The 69-year-old is suing Churchill Downs Inc. in federal court to end his suspension. 

"It killed me when they made a big deal taking [Medina Spirit's] name off, in the paddock," Baffert said. "And they took my signs down at the barn. It's tough to see that, but you know what, at the end of the day, when the facts come out ... it tells a different story. That day will come. Yeah."

Baffert is also facing a potential two-year suspension in New York for repeated medication violations. If his suspension is approved by a New York Racing Association panel, Baffert will be barred from entering horses at Saratoga when the summer season begins on July 14.