Baffert, Zedan File Suit Against Kentucky Commission Over Extra Testing In Medina Spirit Saga - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Baffert, Zedan File Suit Against Kentucky Commission Over Extra Testing In Medina Spirit Saga

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert

Medina Spirit trainer Bob Baffert and owner Amr Zedan have filed a civil suit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) in Franklin Circuit Court demanding more testing of the post-race samples taken from the colt after the Kentucky Derby. The suit, filed June 7, seeks temporary and permanent injunctions against the KHRC from “violating the plaintiffs' substantive and procedural due process rights with regard to the analysis of the split biological urine sample” in the case.

Eight days after the Kentucky Derby, Baffert publicly announced he had been informed an initial post-race test on Medina Spirit had revealed the presence of the corticosteroid betamethasone. At the time, Baffert said the horse had never been treated with betamethasone, which comes in multiple forms. Two days later after the ensuing media storm, Baffert announced Medina Spirit had been treated with Otomax, a topical cream approved for use in dogs in the process of trying to clear up a sizable patch of skin irritation.

A split sample test has confirmed the presence of betamethasone, but the KHRC has yet to issue a stewards' ruling regarding the potential disqualification of the horse and/or fines and suspensions for Baffert. In acknowledging the positive split sample, attorneys for Zedan and Baffert last week acknowledged they were going to conduct further testing on samples from Medina Spirit.

The lawsuit reveals that the attorneys had made a number of demands regarding the testing of that split sample. The purpose of split sample testing is to confirm or refute the original finding from the initial post-race test in the same medium (blood or urine), but attorneys for Baffert and Zedan demanded that both mediums be tested. They also demanded that both mediums be tested for other compounds present in Otomax, including the anti-fungal clotrimazole and the anti-bacterial gentamicin, as well as the specific chemical form of betamethasone used in the topical application – betamethasone valerate.

Learn more about split sample testing here.

The KHRC declined those requests, which exceed the typical battery of tests for split sample testing. It did agree to send the remnants of the original samples to a laboratory chosen by Zedan and Baffert so that additional testing could be performed at the owner and trainer's expense. The lawsuit claims the testing samples arrived damaged, and that the KHRC is now reluctant to send the horse's split urine sample, which has not been tested, to another laboratory.

“There currently sits in the KHRC freezer an unopened, untested and hopefully pristine split sample of Medina Spirit's urine,” reads the suit. “Given the foregoing, the plantiffs requested that the urine be immediately shipped to the agreed upon lab for testing for all the compounds in Otomax. The KHRC has refused this reasonable request and indicated it has no intention of allowing that urine split sample to be tested in any way.”

The complaint also puts forth the theory by attorneys for Baffert and Zedan that the classification of betamethasone in KHRC regulations is intended to refer only to the FDA-approved injectable form of betamethasone, known by the trade name BetaVet. The commission's current classification guidelines refer to the drug betamethasone, not to BetaVet. The plaintiffs claim the existing regulations do not “discuss or include any reference to the use of betamethasone as a component of a topical ointment or cream.”

KHRC regulations do not appear to discriminate between topical versus injected products or between brand name products in current drug classification guidelines. Its withdrawal guidelines, which “shall provide certain mandatory treatment requirements, guidance, and advice” do make specific reference to injected forms of betamethasone. One section of Kentucky regulation (Section 4 in this chapter) does provide exemption for the use of topical drugs in certain circumstances, including a provision that the ointment be acting under the direction of a licensed trainer or veterinarian and that the topical not contain a “prohibited” substance.

The KHRC has not yet filed a response in the case. A hearing for the temporary injunction will take place before Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate on Friday morning.

Read a copy of the civil complaint here.

Editor's note: This story has been clarified to include a reference to part of Kentucky regulations dealing with topical ointments.

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