Kentucky appeals court denies Bob Baffert's motion for stay; suspension to begin Monday

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday rejected trainer Bob Baffert's motion for emergency relief from a 90-day suspension.

As a result of the order signed by Acting Chief Judge Allison Jones, the Hall of Fame trainer's suspension is scheduled to begin on Monday.

"The Court emphasizes that it makes no determination of the merits of Baffert's contentions of error," Jones wrote. "The underlying motions for interlocutory relief along with any additional, dispositive motions shall be assigned to a three-Judge panel of this Court following expiration of the response time provided in the Civil Rules."

Signage outside Baffert's barn at Santa Anita was removed as part of a California Horse Racing Board rule that mandates any trainer who is suspended for 60 days or more be banned from all CHRB-licensed facilities.

Baffert had already transferred four promising 3-year-old colts to other trainers so they can run in major prep races and potentially earn points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby on May 7. One of those, Doppelganger, is entered in Saturday's $1.25 million Arkansas Derby.

Churchill Downs has suspended Baffert for the 2022 and 2023 Kentucky Derbies. Baffert is fighting that ban in federal court.

The suspension will be honored in all 38 racing states.

"We were disappointed by today's decision, but it's important to understand that the court made it clear that it denied the stay purely on procedural grounds and not on the merits, all of which point to Bob ultimately winning this case," said Clark Brewster, an attorney for Baffert.

Baffert has repeatedly come up short in his other attempts to obtain a stay order, including from Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, who turned down Baffert's request on March 21.

"We will continue to fight for Bob's ability to race and win in Kentucky and against the injustice of KHRC against Bob," Brewster said.

The Hall of Fame trainer's suspension is the result of medication violations involving some of his horses, including Medina Spirit. The colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby and tested positive after the race for the corticosteroid betamethasone, which is not allowed in Kentucky on race day. Medina Spirit was later disqualified.