Bob Baffert sues Churchill Downs for a 2-year suspension

Bob Baffert sued Churchill Downs, and the track leadership in federal court.

02 March 2022 Wednesday 10:53
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Bob Baffert sues Churchill Downs for a 2-year suspension

He sought to reverse the two year suspension of the Hall of Fame trainer on grounds that it violated his due processes rights.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday and names Churchill Downs Inc.'s CEO William C. Carstanjen, as well as R. Alex Rankin, the board chair. Baffert was suspended by the historic track last year and will be reinstated in 2023. The suit names Churchill Downs Inc., CEO William C. Carstanjen, and R. Alex Rankin as board chair. After the race, a postrace drug test showed that he had betamethasone in him. This corticosteroid is legal in Kentucky but banned on race day.

Kentucky racing stewards disqualified Medina Spirit last week and gave Baffert a 90 day suspension and $7500 fine. Churchill Downs announced the winner as Mandaloun shortly afterward. Marc A. Guilfoil, director of Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, denied Friday's trainer's request for a stay to the suspension that was scheduled to start on March 8.
Baffert and his agents argued that Medina Spirit's steroid was derived from Otomax, a topical ointment that is not banned. In a Tuesday release, Clark Brewster said that Churchill Downs does not have the task of relegating Kentucky horse racing but could "unilaterally ban" any trainer without having any facts or any sort of due process.

"Churchill Downs, Mr. Carstanjen, knew that suspending it, based upon zero factual and legal support, would give illegitimate credence to a false narrative regarding Bob," Brewster said, "creating pressure for the Kentucky Race Horsing Commission Stewards to also take action against him."

Churchill Downs described Baffert's lawsuit as disappointing, but not surprising, and issued a statement saying it would fight the suit to defend the company's rights.

It added that "His claims were unfounded and consistent with his pattern involving failed drug tests, denials and excuses, and attempts to blame others and find loopholes in an attempt to avoid taking responsibility."

Medina Spirit passed away on December 6 after suffering a heart attack, according to Baffert. This was following a Santa Anita track workout in California. A necropsy revealed no definitive cause for his death. The horse's remains will be interred at Kentucky's retirement farm for thoroughbred horses.

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