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Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby Suspension Upheld

The Kentucky Derby is just two weeks away. On the track, 3-year-olds have been busy compiling enough points to make the Derby field, which will go postward on Saturday, May 4.

Off the track, though, one owner attempted to overturn a suspension and, by proxy, get at least two ineligible runners into the field. Those efforts failed Thursday when a judge denied Amr Zedan’s motion and, in doing so, ensured trainer Bob Baffert’s continued suspension from the Kentucky Derby.

More on Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby suspension

Baffert initially won the 2021 Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit. However, a post-race drug test showed an overage of betamethasone. After a lengthy legal fight (including a lawsuit from Kentucky Derby betting enthusiasts who backed initial runner-up Mandaloun), Medina Spirit was disqualified and Baffert was suspended.

As part of that suspension, horses trained by Baffert could not earn Kentucky Derby points in major prep races. Most owners of horses in Baffert’s barn opted to move their horses to other trainers during the prep seasons in 2022 and 2023 before moving them back to the Hall of Famer after the Derby.

That suspension, initially set to conclude in the fall of 2023, was extended by Churchill Downs in July of that year. Zedan, the former owner of Medina Spirit and current owner of would-be 2024 contender Muth, filed his injunction earlier this month in a last-ditch effort to get his horse into the starting gate.

Thursday’s ruling came after a series of hearings earlier this week. Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry presided over those hearings and handed down the final judgment. In his ruling, he cited the effects of allowing Baffert trainees into the field, a field that would no longer include horses that had made the cut on Derby points:

“These are entities who have done nothing wrong, have followed the rules, and worked hard only to be denied the opportunity to compete at the last moment. There could be nothing more unfair than that.”

So what happens now?

The prep races for the Kentucky Derby have all been run, so the field for the race is largely set. Only defections from that race could allow horses who currently do not qualify on points an opportunity to make the Kentucky Derby field.

It’s likely that Baffert’s horses will await the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Preakness Stakes betting takes center stage on Saturday, May 18, and Baffert has won that race eight times (more than any other trainer in history). If healthy, it’s likely Muth will run in that race, where the Arkansas Derby winner would be one of the betting favorites.


  • Andrew Champagne

    Andrew Champagne is a Senior Editor at Raketech. A passionate storyteller, handicapper, and analyst, Andrew lives in Northern California's Bay Area. He can often be found planning his next trip to Las Vegas, bowling reasonably well, or golfing incredibly poorly.