The fallout from trainer Bob Baffert’s latest failed medication test took a troublesome turn for the Hall of Fame conditioner when breeding colossus Spendthrift Farm removed several horses from his barn.
The Daily Racing Form reported that Spendthrift’s Following Sea was transferred to Todd Pletcher’s barn. Along with that, Spendthrift moved four recently shipped 2-year-olds from Baffert’s Santa Anita Park barn. The DRF wrote they’ll likely go to Richard Mandella, who also keeps his primary string at Santa Anita.
Following Sea was set for this weekend’s Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness Stakes undercard. Instead, he’ll regroup in Pletcher’s barn.
“Given the circumstances, we thought it was best to hit the pause button,” Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey told the DRF. “I think we need to step back and let’s see how things play out. We’re not ruling anything out in the future.”
Medina Spirit’s positive drug test the deciding factor
Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s positive test for excessive amounts of the anti-inflammatory betamethasone gave Baffert his fifth medication violation in a year. The colt retains his Derby victory pending results of a split sample. He’s the 9/5 favorite for Saturday’s 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
When Baffert first announced the test results Sunday morning, he said nobody in his employ gave betamethasone to Medina Spirit. On Tuesday, he said a veterinarian prescribed the ointment, Otomax, for dermatitis the colt picked up after the April 3 Santa Anita Derby. That ointment contains betamethasone.
This is a 180-degree move from the recent past, when Spendthrift and Baffert captured the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic with Authentic. The colt parlayed that into Eclipse Awards as Champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year. He now stands at stud at Spendthrift.
Baffert’s record with Spendthrift is clean
Toffey told the DRF that Baffert “never had a positive test for us.” But he still thought breaking from the most prominent trainer in the sport at this time was the right thing to do.
This is also a 180-degree move from last winter, when Baffert inherited Maximum Security from indicted trainer Jason Servis’ barn. The colt’s owners, Gary and Mary West, moved their prize colt to Baffert after Servis’ indictment on horse doping charges.
Meanwhile, another one of Authentic’s owners, MyRacehorse, moved three of its horses: Lavorgia, Forbidden Kingdom and Infinite Empire, from Baffert to Mandella. It sent updates to its micro-share owners of those horses Tuesday.
“Over the past several days, we have been in talks with Spendthrift Farm and we have decided that based on the current uncertainty of the Bob Baffert situation, as a fiduciary to our owners, we will move the horses currently in training with Bob Baffert to Richard Mandella,” the statement read.
MyRacehorse stepping back from Baffert
MyRacehorse said it put on hold plans to send Baffert a Distorted Humor colt it purchased at April’s Ocala Breeders Sale. The entity, which buys into horses and sells micro-shares to the public, added no decision on that colt has been made.
“In the two years we have been with Bob Baffert, we have been impressed by his horsemanship, passing for the game and love of the horse,” the statement to its micro-share owners read. “The current situation is unfortunate, and we hope through due process things work out favorably for Bob Baffert. But in the short term, we are confident this is the right decision for our stable and our owners.”