Churchill Downs has delayed reopening stables at the track and training center to April 28 and postponed its spring meet that was scheduled to open April 25.
The track last month postponed the 146th Kentucky Derby from May 2 to Sept. 5, the first time since 1945 the race will not be run on the first Saturday in May.
Churchill Downs’ stables have been closed since Dec. 31 for winter renovations and were originally scheduled to open March 17 before being delayed in response to executive orders from Gov. Andy Beshear to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19.
Track president Kevin Flanery said in a statement that Churchill Downs is following the lead of the governor and public health officials and added, “Our team will be ready to open under the relevant guidance we are given when the time is right.”
The opening of the stable area and training track at Saratoga in upstate New York and barn area at Monmouth Park in New Jersey is also being delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Oklahoma training track at Saratoga was set to open April 15. The New York Racing Association says it has yet to decide an appropriate date to safely open.
The delay does not impact the start of the Saratoga racing season which is scheduled to begin on July 16 and run through Sept. 7. The meet will be highlighted by the Travers and Whitney.
In New Jersey, Monmouth Park has pushed back the opening of its stable area until June 1. That’s a month later than the planned opening. Live racing is set to start the Fourth of July weekend.
The centerpiece of Monmouth Park’s summer season is the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 18. The winner of the 1 1/8 mile race earns a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It also will serve as a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, now slated for Sept. 5.
NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.
Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.
“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”
Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.
“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”
Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.
Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.
Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.
U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”
Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.
The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.
Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.
It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”
Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.