Baffert might sue Churchill Downs over Kentucky Derby ban

Baffert might sue Churchill Downs over Kentucky Derby ban
Photo: Churchill Downs Inc.

Bob Baffert could be planning to sue Churchill Downs Inc. to try and force the organization to allow him to run his horses on its tracks, according to a Monday report from Joe Drape of The New York Times.

When reached for comment by Horse Racing Nation, Baffert’s attorney Clark Brewster did not deny that a suit had been discussed.

“Obviously matters are discussed among lawyers, and proposed complaints may have been discussed and circulated,” Brewster said. “But at this point in time I consider that to be something that lawyers do in a good-faith effort to cause resolution before filing the lawsuit.”

Brewster said he did not make any concrete threats of a lawsuit.

“I just simply view the facts and law in one way and try and share that information with whoever the decision makers are on the other side.”

The trainer was banned from CDI tracks following Medina Spirit’s positive drug test in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The track issued a statement on social media following the Times story’s release.

“CDI is committed to protecting the integrity and future of the racing industry - for the horses, our fans, our partners, our team members and the betting public,” the statement read. “No one is above the rules, including Mr. Baffert, and we remain intent on holding him accountable for his actions.”

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has still not ruled whether Medina Spirit, who died in December of a suspected heart issue after a work at Santa Anita, will be disqualified from his win in the Derby. The Times report said a draft of the threatened suit from Baffert claims he was not given sufficient due process in the case.

That argument worked against the New York Racing Association, which was forced by a court to allow Baffert to race at its tracks, however, CDI is a private company, whereas the court found NYRA to be acting in the role of government. Baffert will face a hearing in the NYRA case beginning Jan. 24.

Baffert has several horses that could be on the path to the 2022 Derby if the trainer was allowed, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Corniche.

"There’s a lot of context to what’s going on here that not many people in this industry have any appreciation for,” Brewster said. “It really is disturbing, because nobody really has taken the time to really understand the facts and circumstances and be fair in this matter.”

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