Will The Baffert Scandal Affect the Breeders Cup?
It has been an amazing year of racing action in the United States, but one story has threatened to take all the headlines away from the equine stars. Bob Baffert’s reputation as a leading trainer remains in question following the failed drugs test of Medina Spirit following the Kentucky Derby.
The victory still stands at present, but there are still claims that the win could be overturned. With the story continuing to hit the headlines, could it have a negative impact on the racing that we will see at Del Mar when the Breeders’ Cup gets underway in November?
Baffert Saga Continues To Drag On
Baffert remains one of the most famous racing trainers in the United States, with few able to get close to his record in the biggest races of the season. The 68-year-old has trained seven winners of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and three winners of the Belmont Stakes.
He has also won 17 races at the Breeders’ Cup during his illustrious career, which includes four wins in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, his reputation has been hit over the past year, which started when his runner in the Kentucky Derby failed a drugs test.
Medina Spirit won this year’s race from Mandaloun and Hot Rod Charlie. However, the aftermath has been messy, to say the least. Reports that Medina Spirit had failed a post-race test became public knowledge seven days after the conclusion of the first Triple Crown race.
Baffert tried to plead his innocence, even claiming that one reason that he could have failed a test may have been after he had eaten hay that was urinated on by a groom that had taken cough medicine. A second test also came back as positive, which led to the announcement that Churchill Downs were banning Baffert-trained runners for the next two years.
Baffert’s attorneys made the case that more tests should be carried out before the Derby win is taken away. Further complications have arisen after a number of bettors have filed class action lawsuits against Baffert, accusing him of fraud, negligence, and racketeering. Meanwhile, New York Racing officials have also moved again to suspend Baffert from making entries to their tracks.
Could It Impact The Breeders’ Cup?
There is no doubt that the ongoing Baffert saga could yet have an impact on the Breeders’ Cup. However, when it comes to the American trainer making entries, he is still free to do so. Rulings made by Kentucky Downs and the NYRA will have no impact on any decision that could be made by officials at Del Mar, which means that Californian track could still welcome Baffert runners. However, there’s no denying that there could be a backlash if this is the case.
Like every year, Baffert would have prepared horses for challenges at the various races taking place at the Breeders’ Cup later in the year, and those plans could still be pressed ahead before a final decision is made.
A final decision may not even be made until late October, which means bettors looking to find ante-post value in the markets may be wary about making a bet on any potential Baffert runner that could head to Del Mar.
When it comes to the runners that we could potentially see travel to the Breeders’ Cup, Baffert has a number of possible entries for some of the most lucrative races.
As Time Goes By could head to the Distaff to take on Malathaat and Letruska, while the current winner of the Derby, Medina Spirit, could return to the track in the Classic. There is no doubt that a Medina Spirit victory in the Classic would raise more questions than it answers, especially if he beats horses of the quality of Essential Quality, Maxfield and Knicks Go.
What Will Del Mar Do?
The time is coming for the industry to make a huge decision when it comes to Baffert. Kentucky Down’s stance is one that is strong, and it’s no surprise that many of the other tracks around the country have been fearful of making the same stand.
Baffert’s power in the sport is unrivalled, which means that some of the smaller tracks will welcome him taking his horses to tracks. However, when it comes to the integrity of the Breeders’ Cup, Del Mar should avoid the same stance.
The eyes of the world will be on the United States for the featured meeting of the season, and the US authorities can’t be seen to be giving a blind eye to the practices that Baffert has been guilty of so far this season.
There would be nothing worse in the world of racing than a Baffert winner in the Classic, as it would plunge US racing into a disastrous position that it may never truly recover from. Find the complete list of Breeders’ Cup contenders & entries by TwinSpires here.
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