Medina Spirit Disqualification: KHRC’s Administrative Hearing Delayed To June 28

An administrative hearing in the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s disqualification of Medina Spirit from the 2021 Kentucky Derby has been delayed, reports Originally scheduled to take place in front of a hearing officer on April 18, the hearing will now begin on Tuesday, June 28.

The hearing officer listens to all the evidence presented by both sides, then makes recommendations to the KHRC.

The KHRC officially disqualified Medina Spirit due to a positive test for betamethasone on Feb. 21, 2022. Trainer Bob Baffert appealed that decision, as well as his accompanying 90-day suspension, and requested that the commission issue a stay of the suspension until the appeals process played out. The KHRC voted not to stay Baffert’s suspension, and a legal appeal of that decision also failed.

Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate issued a ruling on March 21 siding with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and denying Baffert’s bid to overturn the commission’s refusal to issue a stay of his suspension, leading Baffert to his filing for an emergency stay with the state’s Court of Appeals.

The appellate court denied the stay on April 1. Signed by Acting Chief Judge Allison Jones, the denial states in part: “Having carefully reviewed the record in conjunction with the applicable statutes and regulations, the Court concludes that the statutory right to appeal to circuit court pursuant to KRS 230 320(2)(f) provides an adequate remedy at law, such that equitable forms of relief, including the requested emergency stay, are presently unavailable. There can be no irreparable injury where, as here, the General Assembly has provided adequate administrative remedies.”

Medina Spirit’s trainer, Bob Baffert, began serving the 90-day suspension issued by the KHRC on April 4. The suspension is reciprocated across all U.S. racing jurisdictions.

The legal decisions above are separate from the civil lawsuit Baffert filed against Churchill Downs, Inc., on Feb. 28, 2022, in an attempt to halt the company’s ban on his trainees from stalls or entries, including its ban of his horses from the 2022 and 2023 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks races. CDI’s move to bar the trainer from the Derby and Oaks for two years was made by the track independently of the Kentucky commission and was announced well before the Kentucky stewards made their ruling in the case.

Baffert-trained horses have been ineligible to earn points on either the Road to the Kentucky Derby or the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, and his entire stable has since been transferred to other trainers for the duration of his suspension. Among those transferred were the first two finishers in Saturday’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby: Taiba and Messier, both saddled by former Baffert assistant trainer Tim Yakteen.


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