BENSALEM, Pa. – Medina Spirit, the Kentucky Derby winner who failed a postrace drug test, won’t run in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.
Embattled Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Tuesday he is going to keep the colt in California and run in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes against older horses at Santa Anita on Oct. 2.
Medina Spirit was the 2-1 early favorite for the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. He has won three of seven starts this year.
“I want to do what is best for the horse,” Baffert said. “I don’t like the way he drew.”
Medina Spirit was assigned post position nine in the Pennsylvania Derby.
The colt was set to face nine others, including Belmont Stakes runner-up Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon, who was second in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
“I have a lot of respect for the other two horses,” Baffert said. “I was really looking forward to it. It’s a great race with him in there, but it’s something I have to do. I feel that part of my success is knowing when to run. This is a management call of mine.”
Baffert has won the Pennsylvania Derby three times, most recently with McKinzie in 2018.
Baffert said Private Mission, the 9-2 early favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion at Parx Racing, will also stay home. She will be pointed to the $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes on Oct. 3, also at Santa Anita.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to render a final verdict as part of its investigation into Medina Spirit testing positive for the steroid betamethasone. Churchill Downs suspended Baffert for two years.
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.