Judge Sets Jan. 18 Hearing On Baffert Motion For Injunction Against Churchill Downs Ban - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Judge Sets Jan. 18 Hearing On Baffert Motion For Injunction Against Churchill Downs Ban

Trainer Bob Baffert

Federal Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings  has ordered a Jan. 18, 2023, hearing to consider a motion by Bob Baffert for a preliminary injunction to end the ban against the Hall of Fame trainer imposed by Churchill Downs that runs through the 2023 spring-summer meet.

Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen banned Baffert for over two years from all of the company's properties in May 2021, citing private property rights. The ban also prevents Baffert-trained horses from earning qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.

The action came after Baffert-trained Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone after finishing first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. It was the second betamethasone positive for a Baffert runner in a major Churchill Downs race, following Gamine's failed drug test after a third-place finish as the odds-on favorite in the Kentucky Oaks in 2020. Baffert runners failed three other drug tests outside of Kentucky in 2020, including Charlatan in the G1 Arkansas Derby.

Medina Spirit was subsequently disqualified from his Derby win and Baffert was handed a 90-day suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that he served earlier this year. Amr Zedan, the owner of Medina Spirit, has appealed the disqualification. Medina Spirit died following a workout in December 2021.

The complaint, filed in February 2022 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, is against Churchill Downs Inc., its CEO William Carstanjen, and CDI chairman Alex Rankin. A motion for injunctive relief came soon thereafter. A second motion for a preliminary injunction was filed Dec. 15, and on Tuesday the judge in the case ordered the Jan. 18 hearing at 1 p.m. at the Gene Snyder Courthouse in Louisville, Ky. Defendants have until Jan. 3 to respond to the renewed motion for a preliminary injunction.

“Bob was not afforded a simple conversation before Carstanjen announced a penalthy and lengthy suspension,” said Clark Brewster, attorney for Baffert. “It was unprecedented and from his announcement it was clear he had no basic knowledge of the KHRC rules or the facts which led to the report 21 picogram Beta report.”


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