Baffert's Breeders' Cup runners to face enhanced testing

All horses trained by Bob Baffert that compete in any 2021 Breeders' Cup races will have to undergo enhanced out-of-competition, pre- and post-race testing, and other security protocols, at Baffert's own expense, to participate at Del Mar, Breeders' Cup announced on Sunday.

The organisation previously announced last month it had commenced a review process as to whether the Hall of Fame trainer would be permitted to participate in this year's Breeders' Cup on November 5 and 6.

Baffert is embroiled in legal battles connected to Zedan Racing Stables' Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone in both initial and split-sample blood tests. As betamethasone is not permitted on any level on raceday in Kentucky, the finding could lead to the horse's disqualification and disciplinary action against Baffert by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. 

The Breeders' Cup's statement reads: "Breeders' Cup conducts thoroughbred racing at the highest levels of safety and integrity for the benefit of our horses, riders, participants, fans, and bettors. To this end, the Breeders' Cup board of directors convened a special review under legal counsel to evaluate the recent conduct of Mr. Bob Baffert in order to determine whether he should be permitted to participate in the 2021 World Championships. In the interest of fairness, Mr. Baffert was provided with advanced notice and an opportunity to take part in the process, and the board appreciated his participation and cooperation in connection with its inquiries.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances, Breeders' Cup has decided to require all horses trained by Mr. Baffert to undergo enhanced out-of-competition, pre- and post-race testing and other security protocols, at his own expense, in order to participate in the 2021 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Del Mar.

"In addition to operating under the rules and regulations of both the California Horse Racing Board and Del Mar for the 2021 World Championships, those competing in any Breeders' Cup race are subject to another set of rules specific to the Breeders' Cup, which include the Breeders' Cup condition of entry, the prohibited substance rule, and the convicted trainer rule. On top of our industry-leading protocols and standards, additional testing and security requirements for any horse under Mr. Baffert's care will be administered at his expense under a signed agreement to provide a more targeted layer of accountability.

"These additional measures include increased randomised out-of-competition testing for all prohibited and restricted substances, additional tests administered the week of the World Championships, increased veterinarian and security checks, and in-person 24-hour security surveillance ahead of the horse or horses' respective events. Mr. Baffert has agreed to abide by each of these additional measures.

"Working with horses and competing in the World Championships is a privilege, and medication restrictions and testing protocols are in place for a reason. The Breeders' Cup expects Mr. Baffert's complete cooperation in ensuring that every horse under his care is in full compliance with all medication restrictions and safety standards.

"Breeders' Cup looks forward to the uniform rules and enforcement mechanisms that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's anti-doping and medication control program will bring to our sport."

Baffert, in a statement he texted to BloodHorse, said, "I share the values of the Breeders' Cup board and the principles which underlie the World Championships of our great sport. I welcomed the good-faith inquiry of the Breeders' Cup racing committee and we transparently answered their requests, through documentation and in-person meetings.

"I invite any pre-race scrutiny and testing for my Breeders' Cup entrants. I compliment the horsemen on the Breeders' Cup board that selflessly provided their time, diligence, and integrity in reviewing the true facts and not acting on a false rush to judgment."