Bob Baffert, the coach of the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, sued the New York Racing Affiliation on Monday for banning him from competing on the three tracks it operates, saying in an affidavit it “will successfully put me out of enterprise within the State of New York.”
The affiliation barred Baffert from getting into horses or stabling them on the Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct racetracks after Medina Spirit’s post-Derby drug take a look at was optimistic for betamethasone, a corticosteroid that’s injected into joints to cut back ache and swelling.
In a criticism filed in federal court docket in Brooklyn, Baffert stated the suspension was unconstitutional and that he wished it lifted so horses in his high-powered barn may race in profitable and prestigious races in Saratoga this summer season and at Belmont within the fall.
“NYRA’s impulsive choice to deprive Baffert of his skilled livelihood inside the State of New York is one which it had no authorized authority to make,” the criticism 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 test — after two checks following his victory have been optimistic for the anti-inflammatory drug.
After floating numerous theories — together with contamination, a conspiracy concentrating on him and “cancel tradition” — 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 Could 17. After Medina Spirit’s second take a look at 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 motion to guard the integrity of the game for our followers, the betting public and racing individuals,” Pat McKenna, a spokesman for the affiliation, stated Monday. “In making the dedication to quickly droop Mr. Baffert, NYRA took under consideration the truth that different horses skilled by Mr. Baffert have failed drug checks within the current previous, ensuing within the evaluation of penalties in opposition to him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California, and Arkansas.”
No less than 5 of Baffert’s horses have failed drug checks in just a little over one yr, and he has had 30 failed checks in his profession.
Nonetheless, a potential 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. In the event that they disqualify Medina Spirit and both droop or wonderful Baffert, he may attraction to the complete 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 Picture was taken away after a drug take a look at confirmed the presence of a banned anti-inflammatory. It took 4 years earlier than Dancer’s Picture was irrevocably disqualified.
The fallout from the failed take a look at and authorized squabbling seems to be hindering Baffert’s enterprise. One among his extra loyal homeowners, Spendthrift Farm, moved six of its horses from Baffert’s barn. Final yr, he skilled its colt Genuine to a 2020 Derby victory.
Three different horses previously skilled by Baffert have been left in Kentucky within the care of Rodolphe Brisset by their homeowners.