Renowned horse trainer Bob Baffert suspended from Derby

Jamie Newell/TwinSpires

Photo by Jamie Newell/TwinSpires, courtesy of

Kaelin Gaydos

Churchill Downs recently suspended Bob Baffert, Hall of Fame horse trainer and six time Derby winner, from the Kentucky Derby for two years. The suspension has been extended to all 38 horse-racing states, meaning that Baffert will also not be allowed to step foot in this year’s Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This all comes in light of a string of medical violations, including the 2021 Derby incident, where his horse Medina Spirit was disqualified because the steroid betamethasone was found in his bloodstream. Medina Spirit would have been the 2021 Derby winner if not for this violation. 

Betamethasone is legal in the state of Kentucky and typically used as a therapeutic (not an enhancement) steroid; however, it is illegal to use on race day. Not only did Medina Spirit lose his title as the winner, but the horse also passed away that same December, just seven months after the Derby.

Bob Baffert has trained six Derby winners, seven Preakness, three Belmont and two Triple Crown winners (Justify and American Pharoah). The man is a prominent and highly successful figure in the horse-racing world. Baffert grew up in Nogales, Arizona, and worked as a jockey in his teenage years. He was heavily influenced by his father, who would race horses on a dirt track. The trainer later moved to California, where he began racing horses at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos. From there his success continued to grow until he achieved the status he has today. Unfortunately, that status is being threatened by emerging statistics and controversies. 

Baffert has had at least 30 known drug violations and his fatality rate is 8.3 per 1,000 starts. His ban will change this year’s Derby, as he is a usual appearance on television coverage and a major talking point. He has raced countless horses and his lack of presence will be unusual.

After Churchill Downs announced that Bob Baffert would be suspended from the track, he sued them and declared that the suspension violated his rights. Baffert’s plea for emergency relief from his suspension was denied by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, but him and his lawyers are going to continue fighting the ban.

 In preparation for his suspension, which started on March 1, Baffert transferred four of his colts to other trainers in hopes that they would qualify for the Derby. Only one of them, Taiba, qualified for the 2022 Derby and is currently ranked in eighth. 

The 148th Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, May 7, with 29 horses in the running. Churchill Downs released the horses participating, listed below in order of their current ranking:

1 Epicenter

2 Zandon

3 White Abarrio

4 Mo Donegal

5 Tiz the Bomb

6 Cyberknife

7 Crown Pride

8 Taiba

9 Simplification

10 Smile Happy

11 Classic Causeway

12 Tawny Port

13 Barber Road

14 Un Ojo

15 Early Voting

16 Messier

17 Zozos

18 Summer is Tomorrow

19 Charge It

20 Happy Jack

21 Pioneer of Medina

22 In Due Time

23 Ethereal Road

24 Rich Strike

25 Rattle N Roll

26 Bye Bye Bobby

27 Skippy Longstocking

28 Major General

29 Golden Glider

Coverage will be aired live on NBC from noon to 7:30 p.m. The actual race will be held at 7 p.m.