New York Racing Association temporarily suspends trainer Bob Baffert

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The New York Racing Association took a strong stand against embattled trainer Bob Baffert on Monday, temporarily suspending the Hall of Famer amid an inquiry into Medina Spirit’s positive test for an anti-inflammatory drug after winning the Kentucky Derby on May 1.

Baffert will not be allowed to enter horses or occupy stalls at Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct during the suspension. If the suspension is still in place on June 5, Baffert would be unable to enter any horses in the Belmont Stakes, a race he has won three times.

“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” NYRA president and chief executive Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “That responsibility demands the action taking today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”

Baffert revealed on May 9 that Medina Spirit had tested positive for a small amount of betamethasone, initially denying that the drug had ever been administered to the horse. Two days later, he acknowledged that a topical ointment that contained betamethasone had been used on Medina Spirit up until the day before the race to treat dermatitis.

OPINION: Horse racing can breathe a sigh of relief as Medina Spirit's Triple Crown bid ends

Though Medina Spirit is still technically the Kentucky Derby winner while the split sample of his postrace blood collection is being analyzed, he will be disqualified and runner-up Mandaloun would be named the winner should it come back confirming the initial positive test.

Medina Spirit was allowed to race in the Preakness under strict conditions from the Maryland Jockey Club, including monitoring and three separate pre-race drug tests that came back negative. Medina Spirit finished a fading third in the Preakness, 5 1/2 lengths behind the winner Rombauer.

It is unclear whether Baffert, who is also suspended indefinitely from racing at Churchill Downs, intended to run Medina Spirit in the Belmont.

The NYRA referenced four failed drug tests by other Baffert horses in California, Arkansas and Kentucky in the year before Medina Spirit’s Derby win as part of the rationale for the suspension and said its length would be “based on information revealed during the course of the ongoing investigation in Kentucky.”

Medina Spirit’s win gave Baffert a seventh Kentucky Derby triumph, the most of any trainer in history. Both he and owner Amr Zedan have suggested they will use all avenues available to them in hopes the result will stand, foreshadowing a potential legal fight to prevent the title and the purse money from being stripped away.

Only one Kentucky Derby result has been changed because of a postrace drug test when Dancer’s Image was disqualified in 1968 and Forward Pass named the winner.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY Sports: Bob Baffert temporarily suspended by New York Racing Association