Bob Baffert, the coach of the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, sued the New York Racing Association on Monday for banning him from competing on the three tracks it operates, saying in an affidavit it “will effectively put me out of business in the State of New York.”
The affiliation barred Baffert from coming into horses or stabling them on the Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct racetracks after Medina Spirit’s post-Derby drug check was optimistic for betamethasone, a corticosteroid that’s injected into joints to scale back ache and swelling.
In a grievance filed in federal court docket in Brooklyn, Baffert stated the suspension was unconstitutional and that he needed it lifted so horses in his high-powered barn may race in profitable and prestigious races in Saratoga this summer time and at Belmont within the fall.
“NYRA’s impulsive decision to deprive Baffert of his professional livelihood within the State of New York is one that it had no legal authority to make,” the grievance stated.
Neither Baffert nor his lawyer, W. Craig Robertson III, returned calls looking for remark.
Medina Spirit, Baffert’s colt, faces disqualification from the Derby — and the horse’s proprietor faces the lack of a greater than $1.8 million first-place verify — after two checks following his victory had been optimistic for the anti-inflammatory drug.
After floating numerous theories — together with contamination, a conspiracy concentrating on him and “cancel culture” — Baffert acknowledged that he was accountable: He stated he handled Medina Spirit with the antifungal ointment Otomax with out understanding it contained betamethasone.
N.Y.R.A. barred Baffert from its tracks on May 17. After Medina Spirit’s second check got here again optimistic on June 2, Churchill Downs suspended him for 2 years, together with the Derby in 2022 and 2023.
“NYRA took this action to protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” Pat McKenna, a spokesman for the affiliation, stated Monday. “In making the determination to temporarily suspend Mr. Baffert, NYRA took into account the fact that other horses trained by Mr. Baffert have failed drug tests in the recent past, resulting in the assessment of penalties against him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California, and Arkansas.”
At least 5 of Baffert’s horses have failed drug checks in slightly over one yr, and he has had 30 failed checks in his profession.
Still, a attainable disqualification is months away and destined to be tied up within the courts for years. First, racing officers will conduct a listening to and challenge a ruling. If they disqualify Medina Spirit and both droop or high-quality Baffert, he may enchantment to the total fee. If the unfavorable ruling continues to be not overturned, he may pursue a treatment in civil court docket.
In 1968, the Derby victory of Dancer’s Image was taken away after a drug check confirmed the presence of a banned anti-inflammatory. It took 4 years earlier than Dancer’s Image was irrevocably disqualified.
The fallout from the failed check and authorized squabbling seems to be hindering Baffert’s enterprise. One of his extra loyal house owners, Spendthrift Farm, moved six of its horses from Baffert’s barn. Last yr, he skilled its colt Authentic to a 2020 Derby victory.
Three different horses previously skilled by Baffert had been left in Kentucky within the care of Rodolphe Brisset by their house owners.