Baffert lawsuit claims Medina Spirit result does not violate rules

Baffert lawsuit claims Medina Spirit result does not violate rules
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, and owner Zedan Racing Stables Inc. have filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission seeking injunctive relief, to try and force further testing of the colt’s post-race samples from the Kentucky Derby. Filed June 7 in Franklin Circuit Court, the suit claims the plaintiffs “substantive and procedural due process rights” will be violated if they are not given injunctive relief.

Baffert and Zedan argue in the suit that the KHRC should be forced to  allow split sample testing on Medina Spirit’s urine sample. Previous split-sample testing confirmed the presence of betamethasone, which is banned in all amounts on race day in Kentucky.

Baffert and his attorneys have claimed the positive test was due to the use of Otomax, a skin cream, rather than an injection. The suit argues KHRC rules pertaining to betamethasone specifically apply to an intra-articular injection and not topical administration. The suit, obtained by Horse Racing Nation, shows the plaintiffs had made a series of demands regarding further testing of the Medina Spirit samples, and the KHRC had refused the request to test both blood (the initial medium) and urine.

“The urine split sample is the best evidence available to determine whether the Betamethasone in Medina Spirit was present due to an injection or the topical cream Otomax,” the suit reads.

A hearing will be held on the matter on Friday at 9 a.m. EDT in the Franklin County Circuit Court.

Medina Spirit crossed the wire first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby before testing positive for betamethasone in a post-race drug screening. The result could cause the colt to be disqualified from the Kentucky Derby, which would give the win to runner-up Mandaloun. Baffert has claimed that the levels of betamethasone found in the blood sample would not have impacted Medina Spirit’s performance.

The suit also claims Baffert has been “excoriated” by both the press and public due to the fallout from the positive test.

“The manner in which the Betamethasone found its way into Medina Spirit is critical,” the suit reads. “There is a huge difference in a Bethmethasone finding due to an interarticular joint injection versus one from a topical injections - from both a regulatory and public relations standpoint.”

KHRC rules require a 14-day withdrawal period for injected betamethasone. They do not make mention of a skin cream.The suit requests the urine sample also be tested for other chemicals found in Otomax, including clotrimazole, an anti-fungal, and gentamicin, an anti-bacterial. The filing also includes an affidavit from  Dr. Steven Barker, which claims Betamethasone is not a performance enhancing drug.The requested tests, which the KHRC denied, go outside of the commission’s usual testing procedures. A spokesperson for the KHRC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new suit is one of several that have been filed in the days since the Derby. Baffert has been named in several federal lawsuits from horsemen, who seek damages based on their losing bets on Mandaloun, which would likely not be paid out, even if he were declared the winner.

In the meantime, Baffert has been issued a two-year suspension by Churchill Downs Inc. and is indefinitely suspended by the New York Racing Association.

The complaint can be read below.

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