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Bob Baffert returns to Santa Anita Park after suspension expires

John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Horse Racing

"When they came into the barn to shake it down [as part of the investigation], it was right there in the kid's brush bucket, but they didn't see it because they weren't looking for it," Baffert said. "I wish they would have found it, because it was right there."

Baffert's next miscalculation was going on Fox News and saying he was the victim of "cancel culture," a politically charged phrase.

"I was talking to someone at Churchill Downs and I said they canceled me out," Baffert said. "That's really what I meant to say. I should have said it that way. Someone very important, and I'm not going to say who, told me, 'You can think it, but you can't say it.' "

Baffert was eventually handed a 90-day suspension. Normally a stay of the suspension is granted if a trainer seeks an appeal, which Baffert did. Yet the KHRC denied the stay and Baffert had no choice but to accept the suspension.

"I thought he would get through the first half of it, with the Derby and other big races," Jill Baffert said. "But I thought midway through it he would get antsy, and he did. Forty-five days is a long time to be away from work, and then you realize you have another 45 to go."

The trainer said he didn't watch a lot of racing when he was away, in part because he didn't know when his horses were running.

 

"My phone was quiet, nobody called me," Bob Baffert said. "It was all up to Sean, Jimmy and Tim. Once in a while we would watch a race, but usually not too much. I just didn't let the situation get me upset. … It was best for me to just check out."

His wife took over the role of what she calls "Bobby-sitting."

"He is a glass half full kind of guy," Jill Baffert said. "And that has helped his success in racing. He's a very optimistic person. There were times [these past months] where I was frustrated, and irritated and hurt. He kept me lifted up in so many ways."

Bob Baffert did make the most of his time away. He spent the time around the running of the Kentucky Derby in Arizona visiting his brother and some owners. He watched the Belmont Stakes at Chileno Bay at Cabo San Lucas, where he took his entire family for six days.

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