Churchill Downs Inc. released a statement Thursday expressing its approval of a district court ruling deciding in its favor a claim in Bob Baffert's lawsuit against CDI. The lawsuit was spurred by the two-year suspension that the company levied upon Baffert in response to Medina Spirit's positive test from the 2021 Kentucky Derby. However, the ruling will not end the proceedings since Baffert intends to press on to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Wednesday, judge Rebecca Grady Jennings of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky granted CDI's motion for summary judgment on the last remaining claim in Baffert's lawsuit against the company. The claim for breach of due process alleged that Baffert's Kentucky training license had been rendered useless by the suspension. Jennings noted, to the contrary, that Baffert had won more than $1 million at Keeneland while he was suspended at Churchill.
"Our actions to suspend Mr. Baffert following Medina’s Spirit’s confirmed positive for a prohibited race-day substance, coupled with his extensive history of drug violations, was done in the best interest of protecting the integrity of horseracing," said the statement from CDI.
The statement continued with optimism that the new anti-doping and medication control program under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority would "expedite both the testing and adjudication process which has historically created confounding delays and threatened the confidence and trust of our fans."
In February, Jennings dismissed the other claims in the lawsuit including unlawful conspiracy in restraint of trade, unlawful use of monopoly power and tortious interference with prospective business relations.
The district court resolution does not mark the end of the legal proceedings around this suit. Clark Brewster, Baffert's attorney, told Horse Racing Nation that the judgment on the final claim cleared the way for appealing the district court ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Baffert's current suspension at CDI-owned tracks is due to expire no later than July 3, closing day of the current Churchill Downs meet. However, when it issued that suspension, CDI reserved the right to extend it if the company deemed such action was appropriate. In the Thursday statement, CDI reiterated that it had the option to continue Baffert's suspension and stated that it "will communicate (its) decision at the conclusion of the initial two-year suspension period."