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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

KENTUCKY DERBY DRAMA LINGERS ON

By HRI Foreign Staff — Where we would love to be talking about an epic display of horses going head-to-head, challenging to the very end and possibly having the tightest of photo finishes, sadly that never happened. Instead, it was a race that was soiled by the winner, Medina Spirit, being found to test positive for performance enhancing drugs after the race had run.

But what was even more controversial at the time, was the horse was allowed to continue running in the remaining Triple Crown races, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Now, this was because the decision to strip the win was being appealed, so it makes sense on one hand to allow the horse a chance at competing in case the test was a false positive. But usually, in these circumstances, horses are withdrawn and not allowed to continue, even during investigations.

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/sports/kentucky-derby-kicks-churchill-downs-louisville-n1266058

But the punishments didn’t stop there, as a press release statement from Churchill Downs Incorporated, the company who owns the track, declared following the positive test. “Given the seriousness of the alleged offense, Churchill Downs will immediately suspend Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, from entering any horses at Churchill Downs Racetrack.”

Eventually, it was declared that the horse was being given steroids that could aid performance, and its win at the 2021 Kentucky Derby was stripped. And the ban on Baffert had been upheld, but now the drama continues as the decision on Baffert may be overturned to allow him to race horses once more. Which has not sat well with many fans who worry he could do the same again and further taint the American horse racing scene.

As it stands, Baffert is appealing to any convictions he faced following Medina Spirit’s win this year, but the dispute could carry on for some time. And many people who have begun to look at futures betting have included his horses in the mix as it stands. Although there is a chance that they could race even if Baffert’s ban does stand.

That’s because if you look at the best bets for today, one of his horses is currently a favorite amongst bookmakers, with the likes of William Hill sticking odds of 15/1 on Baffert’s Corniche. These may seem like high odds now for a favorite, but that’s only because no one has qualified yet, and there are 127 horses that could yet make it into the final line up for the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

Source: https://www.americasbestracing.net/the-sport/2021-corniche-romps-american-pharoah-aint-easy-takes-chandelier-headline-santa-anitas

One reason his horses are still being considered, is because there are loopholes in the system that would allow his horses to compete. As Paul Bach, senior trader for William Hill Nevada, said; “If the horse is talented enough, I’m sure the connections will transfer training duties to another trainer.”

Which would mean that to get around any bans, the horses could be transferred to the possession of someone else. Allowing them to get around the ban, and have Baffert’s horses enter. Although, depending how his appeals go, he may still be able to enter them himself if he finds a judge ruled favorably in his direction.

One person who wouldn’t rule favorably in his decision is former President of the United States, Donald Trump, who was actually ridiculed after the race for calling Medina Spirit a ‘junky’. But that wasn’t purely for his comments about the horse, more so what came after when he started throwing in allegations of the ‘fake’ Presidential election.

“So now even our Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, is a junky. This is emblematic of what is happening to our Country. The whole world is laughing at us as we go to hell on our Borders, our fake Presidential Election, and everywhere else!”

Now, he wasn’t wrong. The horse did take drugs, although it wasn’t like Medina Spirit was trying to hit up heroin dealers on street corners. And everyone was laughing at America, but not for the reasons he believes, it was because of the way he was acting like a baby, inciting riots, and encouraging fascist groups known to promote racism, all because he lost his election. Which he failed to appeal the decision of.

The one thing Baffert has over Donald Trump in his appeal, is he’s not a big orange buffoon who acts like a child, and whilst he may have done wrong, has carried himself in a more reserved manor. So maybe unlike the former President, he will be able to actually win his appeal, and race his horses under his own name. But only time will really tell if we see his name on the cards for the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

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