Bob Baffert, a US Hall of Fame trainer spoke to the New York Times and threatened to sue Churchill Downs due to the fact that the organization handed him a ban after his horse, Medina Spirit, failed drug tests and is not eligible to run this year.
Churchill Downs is Planning to File a Countersuit
Baffert plans to move forward unless the ban on his three-year-old is not lifted. However, Churchill Downs says that it is prepared to go to court. The chief executive of Churchill Downs, Bill Carstanjen, had a simple message to Baffert: “We will see you in court.”
Carstanjen had a couple of harsh words for Baffert, too. First off, he said that the whole case is meritless and emphasized that Baffert is a repeat offender by stating that his horses have failed drug tests 30 times in the past four decades. He ended by saying that the lawsuit is just another tactic used by Baffert to obscure the facts.
On the flip side, Baffert’s lawyer, Clark Brewster, stated that after Medina Spirit’s tests came in, an overture was made to Churchill Downs to discuss the matter, including a draft lawsuit of 80 pages.
Brewster added that the two parties were supposed to meet on Monday, but that is when he was notified about Carstanjen’s statements. As the New York Times reports, Brewster wants the ban to be lifted and thus, allow Baffert’s horses to participate in the Road to Kentucky Derby races. Moreover, he said that Baffert’s portrayal in the media has been unfair, especially after the Medina Spirit situation.
As for the claims that Carstanjen made against Baffert, where he claimed that he has a history of drug test violations, Brewster noted that his client has had 727 horses in Kentucky over the past 29 years. In all those years, only one horse had a drug test violation, according to Brewster, and that was Gamine in Kentucky Oaks, which took place in 2020.
Medina Spirit Recently Died At the Santa Anita Track
The whole drama over Medina Spirit started a week after the horse won the Kentucky Derby in 2021. After the win, Medina Spirit’s drug tests showed increased levels of betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory medication.
Baffert originally claimed that Medina Spirit did not receive the drug, however, he changed his claims later on and said that the drug was prescribed by a veterinarian to treat a rash. As a result of the failed test, Baffert was handed a two-year suspension by Churchill Downs.
However, the situation is still pretty hot as the drug test is under appeal. It remains to be seen what the decision on the test will be. If the drug test stands, then Medina Spirit will be disqualified as the winner and Baffert will likely be under a lot of scrutiny from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Medina Spirit recently died at the Santa Anita track. The cause of the horse’s death is still unknown as the investigation is ongoing.
Carstanjen noted that the rules of the track were made to maintain the safety of both riders and horses. That is why he hopes that Baffert will take responsibility for his actions and Churchill Downs will be able to go forth with the 148th edition of the Kentucky Derby, which is months away.