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Bob Baffert-trained horse not allowed to run in Kentucky Derby, judge rules

As Bob Baffert is suspended from Churchill Downs through 2024, a judge ordered that one of his horses is unable to run in next month's Kentucky Derby.

As Bob Baffert will miss the Kentucky Derby for a third year in a row due to suspension, one of his finer horses will also miss the race.

A judge has denied a request by the owner of the Baffert-trained horse, Muth, to let him run in the first leg of the Triple Crown next month.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry on Thursday declined to grant a temporary injunction to Zedan Racing Stables, which had argued that the 2021 suspension of Baffert from Churchill Downs was "illegal."


Muth won the Arkansas Derby on March 30 but is ineligible to receive the 100 points that would have put him in the Run for the Roses because of Baffert’s suspension.

Perry’s ruling noted that ZRS knew that Derby-eligible horses had to be transferred to a non-suspended trainer by Jan. 29 yet chose to remain with Baffert. The judge also wrote that Churchill Downs has a duty to ensure that rules and regulations put in place to ensure a level playing field are upheld.

In his ruling, Perry expressed concern about "innocent third parties" having to remove eligible horses from the Derby on May 4 to accommodate the horse trained by the Hall of Famer, whose suspension by Churchill Downs was extended through 2024.

Eric Andrus, a spokesman for ZRS, said an emergency appeal would be filed "as soon as possible."


Baffert was suspended from Churchill Downs for two years after a positive drug test on Medina Spirit, who crossed the finish line first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The horse was stripped of its victory, and to make the controversy even worse, it died that December from a heart attack after a workout in Santa Anita. The California courts had a serious face-lift in safety protocols after 30 horses died at the track in 2019.

Churchill Downs Inc. then extended the suspension through 2024, citing "continued concerns regarding the threat to the safety and integrity of racing he poses to CDI-owned racetracks." The track also briefly paused racing last year after a dozen horses died at the course in nearly a one-month span, including seven during the week, and even hours leading up to last year's Derby. The New York Racing Association, which operates the Belmont Stakes, also placed a two-year ban on him in 2021, and he was also disallowed from the 2022 Preakness Stakes.

Baffert returned to the Triple Crown trail last May after having missed the previous five races (his last had been the 2021 Preakness). Naturally, one of his horses, National Treasure, won the race, but on the Stakes' undercard, another one of his horses, Havnameltdown, had to be euthanized following a "non-operable" injury.

Baffert has 17 victories in Triple Crown races, not including Medina Spirit's stripped title.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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