Derby Winner Will Van To Pimlico Due To Tex Sutton Service Disruption

Trainer Bob Baffert told media Sunday morning that his Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, would have to be vanned from Churchill Downs to Pimlico next week for the Preakness Stakes. The usual flight will not be an option due to a service disruption with Tex Sutton, the dominant equine air-transport company in the U.S.

According to the Daily Racing Form, Tex Sutton’s lease on “Air Horse One,” its current aircraft, expires on May 8, and negotiations for a new lease have begun but are not yet complete.

“We are in the process of putting a new contract together with another cargo airline,” read a statement from Tex Sutton. “Because of the regulatory process required to get them up and running, we anticipate a short-term gap in our normal service.”

Most of the horses competing in the Preakness are already located on the East Coast, and the one probable entrant still in California, Rombauer, was scheduled to fly to New Jersey on May 5.

Read more at the Daily Racing Form.

Tex Sutton and Kalitta Charters, the owner of the plane that was known as Air Horse One, became embroiled in a civil lawsuit last year. The driver of a Brook Ledge van sued both companies for negligence and related civil charges after an accident in which he hit a wing of the plane while trying to leave Blue Grass Airport. The van driver was making his first trip to the airport to offload horses from the plane and take them to Turfway Park, and claims he did not receive adequate directions from ground personnel on how to safely exit the airport property. He hit the wing when his attorneys say an optical illusion, poor visibility, and lack of safety perimeter made it appear his vehicle was farther from the plane than he actually was; the driver suffered injuries and missed work as a result. Both Tex Sutton and Kalitta dispute the civil complaint and later filed crossclaims against one another.

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