Following calls from the Center for a Humane Economy, Animal Wellness Action, and the Animal Wellness Foundation, the Maryland Racing Commission has suspended embattled horse trainer Bob Baffert from participating in any horse races in Maryland including the upcoming 147th Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. The suspension comes just one day before the announcement of this year’s Preakness States line-up.
Baffert was recently suspended for 90 days by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, California Horse Racing Board, and the New York State Gaming Commission for drug violations in the 2021 Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit.
After passing three drug tests, Medina Spirit ran in the 146th Preakness Stakes and finished third. The horse later died of heart failure on December 6, 2021.
“We applaud the Maryland Racing Commission for taking swift and decisive action against infamous trainer Bob Baffert to protect the integrity of the 147th Preakness and more importantly, protect the horses themselves,” said Marty Irby, senior vice-president at the Center for a Humane Economy and executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “Authorities in American horse racing have made it clear from sea to shining sea that Bob Baffert’s shenanigans will not be tolerated at any of the three Triple Crown races or in Baffert’s home state.”
“The Maryland Racing Commission relies on its reciprocity…,” wrote J. Michael Hopkins, executive director at the Maryland Racing Commission. “As such Mr. Baffert will not be eligible to participate in the Preakness stakes.”
On Friday, April 1, the Kentucky Court of Appeals handed down Judge Allison Jones’ decision to uphold the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s suspension, preventing Baffert from running horses in the 148th Kentucky Derby. Subsequently, the California Horse Racing Board reciprocated by imposing the same penalties for Baffert in the Golden State. Longtime horse racing journalist Ray Paulick tweeted photos of Baffert’s stable at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, showing that even Baffert’s signs had been removed as Baffert prepared to vacate the space on April 4 as a condition of the suspension. On Monday, the New York State Gaming Commission followed suit in reciprocating by suspending Baffert, effectively preventing him from competing in the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown in Thoroughbred horse racing.
The Kentucky Appellate Court’s decision represents the fourth consecutive loss Baffert has suffered in the case of Medina Spirit this year, following the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s (KHRC) original ruling that stripped Baffert of the 2021 Kentucky Derby title, Baffert’s loss in the KHRC appeal, and a loss in a lawsuit filed in the lower Kentucky Court last month.
The 147th Preakness Stakes will take place in Baltimore on Saturday, May 21.