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Animal groups push for suspension of horse trainer Bob Baffert in Maryland after drugs found in late Medina Spirit's system

Preakness Stakes scheduled to run on May 21 in Baltimore
John Velazquez, Jill Baffert, Bob Baffert
Posted at 4:14 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 16:14:56-04

BALTIMORE — Horse trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended for 90 days in Kentucky, California and New York after he was accused of drug violations in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Now, animal groups are pushing the Maryland Racing Commission to do the same.

The 147th running of the Preakness Stakes, held at Pimlico in Baltimore, will take place on May 21 this year.

Baffert, currently, is banned from competing in two-thirds of the Triple Crown - the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

Medina Spirit won the 2021 Kentucky Derby but was later disqualified after the horse had corticosteroid betamethasone in his system.

According to the Associated Press, attorneys for Baffert have argued that the betamethasone in Medina Spirit’s system came from a topical ointment, rather than an injection, which is banned. Racing officials have said no matter the source, betamethasone is not allowed on race day.

Medina Spirit, who finished third in the 2021 Preakness Stakes, collapsed and died following a workout in December 2021, from what was deemed a heart attack.

“The Maryland Racing Commission should take dutiful action against notorious trainer Bob Baffert to protect the betting public, the integrity of horse racing, and most importantly the horses themselves,” said Marty Irby, senior vice-president at the Center for a Humane Economy and executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “It was shameful to see Medina Spirit paraded around at the 2021 Preakness after testing positive for betamethasone at the Derby, and we will not tolerate business as usual in Baltimore this year.”

According to state animal groups, the Maryland Racing Commission has not issued any formal statement conveying action against Baffert as California and New York have, and the public isn’t generally aware of the custom of reciprocity.