Churchill Downs extends trainer Bob Baffert's ban through 2024

Churchill Downs is extending Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's suspension through 2024, keeping the two-time Triple Crown winner from entering horses in the Kentucky Derby and other races for an additional year.

Churchill Downs Inc. announced Monday it was continuing Baffert's ban, citing "continued concerns regarding the threat to the safety and integrity of racing he poses to CDI-owned racetracks."

Baffert initially was suspended for two years after 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test and was later disqualified.

In a statement, Churchill Downs said Baffert continues to "peddle false narratives" about Medina Spirit's failed drug test for a steroid, betamethasone, that is legal in Kentucky but is banned on race day.

"A trainer who is unwilling to accept responsibility for multiple drug test failures in our highest-profile races cannot be trusted to avoid future misconduct," CDI said.

The company went on to say it will re-evaluate Baffert's status after 2024.

A message left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Baffert's camp was not immediately returned.

Asked for further comment, a CDI spokesperson deferred to the statement.

Baffert's suspension comes with horse racing at a crossroads, following the deaths of 12 horses within a month at Churchill Downs that led the storied track to look into causes, while the Horseracing Safety and Integrity Authority launched a parallel investigation. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. recently was reinstated by Churchill Downs after two of his horses died in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby this year.

Baffert returned to the Triple Crown trail earlier this year at the Preakness after being suspended from that race and the Belmont in 2022 in connection with a different, 90-day ban in Kentucky that Maryland and New York honored. His National Treasure won the Preakness, giving him a record-breaking eighth victory in the race hours after another 3-year-old horse he trained broke his left front leg while racing and was euthanized on the track.

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