News and STORIES
Baffert's Belmont Stakes Dream In Doubt After New York Suspension
Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Tuesday May 18, 2021
Bob Baffert's target of a second Triple Crown victory has been plunged into doubt this week after the New York Racing Association revealed that the trainer's horses would be banned from entering any races in New York.
The decision comes just under a week after the officials at the Preakness Stakes allowed Baffert's two runners- Medina Spirit and Concert Tour- to compete in the second Triple Crown race of the season.
Baffert's Belmont Stakes Dream In Doubt
In the statement, the NYRA claimed that the decision was made to 'protect the integrity' of the sport. Meanwhile, Dave O'Rourke, the President and CEO of the NYRA, added that the decision was made in the 'best interests' of racing in the United States. The suspension of Baffert in New York is just more of the fallout following the failed drug test that was submitted by Medina Spirit after his Kentucky Derby success at the beginning of May.
The stance made by the NYRA is one that has been applauded by many sections of the racing community and one that many believed should have been taken by the Preakness Stakes officials ahead of the Triple Crown race last weekend. Fortunately, Preakness officials avoided having egg on their face, as the race was won by Rombauer. The decision means that Baffert can no longer enter any of the horses in his stable to any meetings taking place at Saratoga, Aqueduct, and most importantly, Belmont.
Meanwhile, the timing of the announcement would certainly cause mayhem in the Baffert yard, as he had yet to formally announce whether he would be sending any runners to Belmont. The third and final, Triple Crown race of the season is due to take place on June 5th. Baffert was yet to confirm whether any runners would be heading to the Stakes race, but it was widely believed that he had targeted other races at Belmont for a number of other horses in his training.
What Happens Next?
The Baffert situation has caused manic talks among organizers regarding the stance that they take. However, the NYRA stance seems far more straightforward, as Baffert will be suspended from making entries until the second test of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit comes back. It's still unknown how long the second test could take to come back, which means it could be fair to assume that there will be no Baffert runners at the Belmont Stakes in early June.
When it comes to the Kentucky Derby, the second test is key to whether Medina Spirit remains the winner. A negative second test will likely mean that he keeps the Triple Crown success, while a positive result will likely mean that he is stripped of the win. The NYRA claimed that the number of past winners of the Kentucky Derby that have failed drug tests was a reason for the stance that they have taken.
The Belmont Stakes betting already shows a clear favorite in the form of Essential Quality. He bypassed the recent Preakness Stakes and looks set to return in June. Hot Rod Charlie and Malathaat are also prominent in the betting, while Preakness winner Rombauer is around a 5/1 chance. Midnight Bourbon and Rebel's Romance are both 10/1 chances, while Known Agenda, Promise Keeper, and Rock Your World are all priced below 20/1. Horses at bigger prices include Weyburn, France Go De Ina, and Brooklyn Strong.