369 horses nominated to compete in Triple Crown series Newgate wins Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Baffert runs 1-2-3-4 Baffert: 2-year Churchill Downs suspension hurt reputation
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. A total of 369 three-year-olds qualified for this year’s Triple Crown Series during the early nomination period.
Each of the horses was nominated by paying $600 to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. The Triple Crown opens on 6 May Derby.
The number of nominated horses increased by 57 compared to 312 last year. Among them, a record 37 horses from Japan.
Notable horses include Forte, last year’s two-year-old champion, who was trained by Todd Pletcher.
Also among the predominantly male horses nominated was a filly named Hoosier Filly.
Brad Cox led all trainers with 38 series-nominated horses. Pletcher was second with 36 horses, followed by Steve Asmussen and Ken McPeak with 13 horses each. Chad Brown and Hideyuki Mori each had 12 points.
Other nominees include Arabian Knight, Cave Rock and Newgate coached by Bob Baffert. He is currently banned by Churchill Downs Inc. at this year’s Derby, although Baffert is contesting his two-year sentence in federal court.
For the Derby, horses under the care of any suspended trainer may be transferred to another trainer and be eligible to earn Derby qualifying points if the transfer is made before 28 February.
Last year, Baffert transferred two horses to another coach and both competed in the Derby, although neither was ranked high.
Horses that are not nominated for the Triple Crown series by the January 28 deadline may make a $6,000 late payment by March 27 to become eligible.
ARCADIA, California. Newgate won the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis race by a neck margin, and Bob Baffert coached all four horses in the Santa Anita Kentucky Derby prep race.
Driven by Frankie Dettori, Newgate ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the favorite. There were no bets on the show due to the size of the field.
Hard to Figure returned $5.20 at 12-1 odds. Worcester was still 1 3/4 lengths behind in third place. The Arabian lion was the fourth.
“There are so many improvements in all these horses,” Baffert said. “I was really nervous before the race, afraid that something strange might happen, but now I can relax.”
Lewis was the preparatory race for the Kentucky Derby, but no points were awarded because Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The Hall of Famer coach was in Louisville to testify in federal court as he seeks a temporary injunction to overturn the suspension. , which will last until the end of the upcoming spring meeting. He was appointed after a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Newgate took his first betting win. The foal was second, losing neck in the Sham Stakes last month in his previous start.
“Frankie Dettori taught him how to just sit back, relax and hit, and that’s what he did today,” Baffert said.
The $120,000 win boosted Newgate’s career earnings to $241,975 with two wins in six starts.
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. Churchill Downs never gave advance notice or attempted to explain his two-year suspension, Hall of Famer coach Bob Baffert said in federal court and reiterated that the punishment had irreparably damaged his business and reputation.
Baffert has sued the historic circuit and is seeking a temporary injunction to stop his suspension following a failed drug test by the now-deceased Medina Spirit after the foal took first place in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
The suspension for a string of bad tests on his horses runs until the end of the upcoming spring competition and could rule Baffert out of the Derby for a second consecutive spring.
Nearly a year ago, Kentucky racing officials disqualified Medina Spirit and suspended Baffert for 90 days for these failed tests. Churchill Downs elevated Derby runner-up Mandaloon to winner.
“They damaged my reputation,” Baffert said during a nearly two-hour deposition in U.S. District Court. “My horses should have made a lot more money. I didn’t run for 90 days and I had to let people go.”
Churchill Downs wants to close the case, citing nine failed trials of horses trained by Baffert as justification for disciplinary action against the most visible racing figure. The list of offenders includes Gamine, a third-place finisher in the 2020 Kentucky Oaks, who was eventually disqualified.
Medina Spirit failed his test for the presence of the corticosteroid betamethasone in his system, which Baffert and attorney Clark Brewster allege came from an ointment, not an injection.
Track president Mike Anderson said Churchill Downs CEO Bill Karstangen’s decision was dictated by Baffert’s “refusal to take responsibility for repeated infractions” during a press conference in his back shed after the Medina Spirit test failed.
“We wanted to state that this was the result of misbehavior,” Anderson said.
Lawyers Matt Benjamin and Christine Demana, who represent Churchill Downs, also disputed Baffert’s claim that the business had been hurt, marking his last crop of promising 3-year-old foals at the Derby circuit this year.
One of them, the Arabian Knight, won last week’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn by 5+ lengths, giving Baffert his record-breaking sixth race win. The horse is ineligible to earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points as the winner due to Baffert’s disqualification.
The featured slide also showed that Baffert’s horses made 477 starts from May 10, 2021 to December 2022 and won important races such as the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juniors (Cornish, Eclipse winner) as well as Tier 1 victories in the Pennsylvania Derby. and Malibu. Stakes (Taiba).
Friday’s hearing, which lasted 3.5 hours, followed a four-hour testimony on Thursday. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings did not say when she would make a decision. But Brewster said he expects a decision “within a few days.”
Baffert revealed that he had a good relationship with Churchill Downes, although he noted that he paid for his seats at the track and had to “bow down” to get them. He also insisted that he was trying to be a good horse racing ambassador, especially after American Pharoah and Justify won the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2018 respectively.
“I think today was great because I was finally able to tell my story in an open-minded atmosphere,” he said. “I hope for the best, and I hope that we will be here.”