The New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) announced Monday that thoroughbred horse trainer Bob Baffert is prohibited from participating in any New York State horse racing activity through at least July 2, as his 90-day suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has been recently upheld in court.
It will be the second year in a row that Baffert could not enter horse in the Belmont Stakes, the last jewel of racing’s Triple Crown.
Baffert, 69, is now suspended in New York and cannot enter horses to run at any New York racetrack, including the New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks (Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course) or Finger Lakes Race Track in Farmington.
On April 1, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled against Baffert’s motion for emergency relief after being issued a 90-day suspension, starting today, for medication violations.
New York is one of 38 racing states that honors out-of-state suspensions issued by regulators.
Specifically, reciprocity has been addressed in New York’s Racing, Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Breeding Law, Section 910:
“Reciprocity of licenses. All license denials, suspensions and revocations imposed by the pertinent racing and gambling authorities of other jurisdictions, including states, United States territories, and Canadian provinces shall be recognized and enforced by the commission."
Baffert and Kentucky Derby DQ
Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs following last year’s positive drug test of his horse Medina Spirit, the original 2021 Derby winner. Medina Spirit, who died in December during a workout at Santa Anita Park, was stripped of the Derby title earlier this year by a three-member panel of Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards.
The '21 Derby runner-up, Mandaloun, was crowned the new winner and the $1.8 million purse went to its connections.
Baffert and his lawyers appealed the ruling, but Franklin (Ky.) Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate denied Baffert’s request for a stay of the suspension. Wingate moved the start date of the suspension from March 8 to today, so Baffert’s team could file an appeal.
On March 1, Baffert also sued Churchill Downs in Kentucky federal court. CDI’s chief executive officer, Bill Carstanjen, and one of its board members, R. Alex Rankin, are also defendants in the suit.
According to the suit, Baffert claims the defendants have “unlawfully deprived and will continue to deprive Baffert of his right to due process of law guaranteed under the 14th Amendment and of his right to participate in horseracing in Kentucky under Kentucky law.”
As the appeals process continues, Baffert would be in jeopardy of not being able to enter any of his horses in the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Baffert horses have won the country’s most prestigious thoroughbred race six times, with two winning the Triple Crown. The second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, will be held May 21. The final leg is in New York, the Belmont Stakes, and is set for Saturday, June 11.
How Mobile Horse Wagering Works
Unlike mobile New York sports betting, which has been in place only since Jan. 8, mobile horse wagering platforms have been offered in the Empire State much longer, highighted by AmWager, DRFBets, NYRABets, TVG and TwinSpires.
In mid-February, the New York Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee unanimously voted, 7-0, to approve S7536, a bill that will allow online sports betting operators to place mobile kiosks at pro sports venues, auto racing facilities, horse race tracks, off-track betting sites (OTBs) and video lottery terminals (VLTs).
The bill, sponsored by State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr., who also serves as Chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, is currently in the state's Senate Finance Committee. Addabbo also would like to see horse racing/harness racing wagering included on mobile sports betting aps in some form.
Current Derby Favorites
Epicenter, trained by Steven Asmussen and ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, and winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course on March 26, is the Derby favorite (7-2 odds), according to the latest edition of the Daily Racing Form’s weekly Derby Watch by Jay Privman and Marty McGee.
Smile Happy (6-1) is the second favorite, with trainer Kenny McPeek and jockey Corey Lanerie. Smile Happy won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on November 27 at Churchill Downs.
Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby winner Classic Causeway (8-1) is the third favorite for trainer Brian Lynch and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
New York Racing Continues
The current 15-day Aqueduct spring meet will end on Sunday, April 24 and will then move onto Belmont Park, where its 44-day race meet will be from April 28 through July 10, highlighted by the 154th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
Saratoga is coming off a record meet of more than $800 million in handle in 2021. Its 40-day summer meet will begin Thursday, July 14 through Labor Day Monday, Sept. 5, featuring the 153rd edition of the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers.