Bob Baffert, who ties the record with six Kentucky Derby wins, won’t be in attendance for the race this year.
He has been banned from Churchill Downs for two years because of a controversy regarding last year’s race. In 2021, Baffert’s horse, Medina Spirit, finished first and was declared the winner. However, subsequent drug tests revealed the presence of a banned substance. Baffert and Medina Spirit were then stripped of the win, and the second place finisher, Mandaloun, was pronounced the winner.
Big news! Medina Spirit has been disqualified from the 2021 Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert fined $7.5k and Mandaloun awarded the race… pic.twitter.com/xeBHLJpTY7
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) February 21, 2022
Baffert, 69, cited an ointment as the possible cause for the positive drug test. He has since sued the New York Racing Association to reinstate Medina Spirit as the winner, according to OutKick’s Alejandro Avila.
Medina Spirit then passed away from a heart attack in December, adding more intrigue to the story.
Though Baffert himself won’t be at the Derby in person, his presence will still be felt. Two of his former horses, Messier and Taiba, are considered true contenders. Baffert’s assistant, Tim Yakteen, took over training responsibilities for the horses a month or so ago, according to CNN.
When asked how he felt about taking on Baffert’s horses, Yakteen said, “I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize it was going to be like this, but I would have never hesitated.”
Epicenter and Zandon, two horses entirely unaffiliated with Baffert or Yakteen, are also considered favorites.
The race is scheduled to begin at 6:57 pm ET this Saturday.
Whatever happens in the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports this year, Baffert will have to watch it on TV like the rest of us.