Horseplayers Sue Baffert, Zedan Racing Over Medina Spirit Drug Test

Four horseplayers have filed a class-action lawsuit against trainer Bob Baffert and Medina Spirit’s owner, Zedan Racing, over the results of the May 1 Kentucky Derby in which Medina Spirit finished first but now is in jeopardy of being disqualified after Baffert revealed the horse failed a post-race drug test.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by 2012 National Horseplayers Championship winner Michael Beychok of Louisiana; Justin Wunderler of New Jersey (known on Twitter as frequent Baffert critic @SwiftHitter); Michael Meegan of New York; and Keith Mauer of California. They allege they were denied winning bets on the Kentucky Derby in amounts ranging from $100 to as much as $100,000 because of Baffert’s “multiple and repeated acts of doping and entering horses into Thoroughbred races, including the Kentucky Derby” that the complaint said constitutes “racketeering activity” under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and laws of the state of California, where Baffert and his stable are based.

Their bets were placed on Mandaloun and other horses in various wagering pools, but were deemed losers when Medina Spirit crossed the wire first and was declared the “official” winner. Eight days after the Derby, Baffert revealed that the 3-year-old Protonico colt tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone and Churchill Downs issued a statement immediately suspending Baffert from racing at the Louisville, Ky., track while the matter is being investigated. While only stewards representing the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission may disqualify horses, the track’s statement said Medina Spirit would be disqualified from his Derby win if a split sample confirms the presence of the drug.

The suit was also filed on behalf of “all others similarly situated,” more specifically, “All Kentucky Derby bettors who would have won their bets and winnings had Medina Spirit been properly prohibited from competing in the Kentucky Derby…or competed without the aid of an illegal drug.”

Betamethasone is a legal therapeutic medication used to treat various maladies in horses but its presence is not permitted at any level in post-race drug tests. Baffert first claimed the horse or test sample were contaminated with betamethasone and days later said the positive test may have been caused by a prescription ointment, Otomax, that includes betamethasone as an active ingredient. Baffert said the ointment was used to treat dermatitis after Medina Spirit raced in the Santa Anita Derby on April 3.

In addition to allegations that Baffert violated the federal RICO Act through an enterprise with Zedan Racing “engaged  in activities affecting interstate commerce,” the plaintiffs also claim they and the class members were defrauded by a “misrepresentation” by Baffert in November 2020 after a series of medication violations that he was retaining Dr. Michael Hore to “ensure rule compliance” for his stable. A news report  earlier this week claims that did not happen.

The plaintiffs are asking the suit to be certified by the court as a class action case and seeking damages that include monetary relief for attorney fees and other expenses, injunctive relief “enjoining the Baffert defendants from engaging in any further racketeering acts,” Imposition of “reasonable restrictions” on Baffert’s future activities in Thoroughbred racing, payment to the plaintiffs and class members for money they would have won “but for the illegal doping of Medina Spirit,” plus treble and punitive damages.

Craig Robertson, attorney for Baffert, said the lawsuit was “completely frivolous and without legal merit.”

Read the complaint here

The post Horseplayers Sue Baffert, Zedan Racing Over Medina Spirit Drug Test appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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