Baffert then provided a lengthy statement claiming that an ointment used to treat dermatitis may have caused the positive test.
Without Baffert, who has won the race a record-tying six times, the field is wide open for what promises to be an exciting contest.
Justify – trained by Baffert – was the last horse to win all three races in 2018.
Although Baffert has been banned from racing, two of his former horses have a good chance of success.
Messier and Taiba are among the suitors who have been handed over to former Baffert assistant Tim Yakteen, who has been training the horses for this weekend’s showpiece for just over a month.
Yakteen says he had no communication with Baffert before the race but was the subject of extra scrutiny, with some saying they are the 69-year-old trainer’s horses, save for name.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know it was going to be like this, but I never would have hesitated,” Yakteen told reporters when asked if he had been hesitant about taking the horses to his barn.
However, Epicenter and Zandon seem to be the two best choices going into the race, with both horses having great potential.
Epicenter trainer Steve Asmussen is the most successful in North American horse racing history, but he failed to win the Derby in his 23 attempts.
Zandon, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive performance last time out that established him as the race favorite.
How to watch
The Derby will air in the United States on NBC, NBC’s website and app with coverage of all of Saturday’s races starting at noon.
The iconic race is scheduled to start at 6:57 p.m. ET.
You Can Read Also