Belmont Stakes Will Run Next Week Without Baffert Horses

Belmont Stakes Will Run Next Week Without Baffert Horses

A field of 10 is expected when the third jewel of the Triple Crown, the 153rd running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes — takes place on Saturday, June 5.

With Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and his horses not in the fray and no Triple Crown on the line, the post-position draw will be held at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday in the Belmont Café at Belmont Park.

Just eight days after this year’s 147th Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, Baffert announced that Derby winner Medina Spirit had failed a post-race drug test, testing positive for 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone. It was later revealed to be from a topical ointment called Otomax, which was used to treat dermatitis on the colt's hind end.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert from running any horses at the track, and both the Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club set specific terms, including drug testing, for Baffert in order to run Medina Spirit in the Preakness on May 15, where he finished third.

The NYRA (New York Racing Association) has banned Baffert from running any horses at any of New York’s thoroughbred racetracks, including Saratoga Race Course, pending further investigation into Medina Spirit’s post-Derby drug test.

Fans Make Their Return

A crowd of at least 11,000 is expected at Belmont Park in Elmont, where social distancing will be mandatory, and spectators must be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 before entering the facility.

Expected to be in the field are Preakness winner Rombauer, trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by John Velazquez, Bourbonic (13th, Kentucky Derby), Brooklyn Strong (15th, Kentucky Derby), Essential Quality (fourth, Kentucky Derby), France Go de Ina (seventh in Preakness), Hot Rod Charlie (third, Kentucky Derby), Known Agenda (ninth, Kentucky Derby), Overtook, Rebel’s Romance (IRE) and Rock Your World (17th, Kentucky Derby).

The three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival kicks off June 3 and will include 17 stakes races in total, with eight Grade 1 races to be contested on Belmont Stakes Day.

Last June, New York-bred Tiz the Law (trained by Barclay Tagg) won by 3 3/4 lengths over Dr Post in the re-distanced 1 1/8-mile Belmont. This year, the Belmont is back to its traditional 1 1/2-mile distance.

The Belmont Stakes will be televised on NBC from 5-7 p.m. ET, along with earlier races on NBCSN from 3-5 p.m.



Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media ( in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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