‘A Valued Friend Of Monmouth Park’: Baffert Trainees Would Be Welcome In Haskell

Following Wednesday’s news of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s two-year suspension at Churchill Downs, Inc.-owned racetracks, Monmouth Park in Oceanport, NJ has taken an opposing stance. The Asbury Park Press reports that Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth, would “welcome” a Baffert-trained horse to run in his track’s premier race, the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, scheduled for July 17.

“I’m sure there will be those that disagree with me and think we should ban him, but we’re not doing that at Monmouth Park,” Drazin told the APP. “Bob Baffert has been a big part of Monmouth Park. He has brought his top horses to the Haskell every year, including American Pharoah. I think he has done a lot for New Jersey racing and always showcased the best horses here and Bob is a valued friend of Monmouth Park who we always felt was on our side and always did right by us. I consider Bob a friend of Monmouth Park.”

Baffert has won the Haskell a record nine times.

Churchill’s actions this week stem from the news that Baffert-trained Medina Spirit, who crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby on May 1, subsequently tested positive for betamethasone, a race-day restricted therapeutic medication. Early Wednesday, news broke that the split sample had also returned a positive result for betamethasone, meaning Medina Spirit may be disqualified from his Derby victory by the KHRC.

Baffert’s suspension by Churchill Downs is not a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission ruling – instead, it is the action of a private entity.

If the KHRC does suspend Baffert’s training license, other state racing commissions, including New Jersey’s, would reciprocate that action. In that event, however, Drazin said Baffert’s long-time assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes would still be welcome to bring horses to Monmouth Park.

This is in direct contrast to the action taken by CDI, which stipulates, “the suspension prohibits Baffert, or any trainer directly or indirectly employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all CDI-owned racetracks.”

Read more at the Asbury Park Press.

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