Hearing Officer In Baffert-Medina Spirit Case Recuses Himself - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Hearing Officer In Baffert-Medina Spirit Case Recuses Himself

Medina Spirit and Bob Baffert

The appeal of Bob Baffert's suspension and Medina Spirit's 2021 Kentucky Derby disqualification resulting from a failed drug test took an unlikely turn on Wednesday when the hearing officer assigned to the case recused himself three weeks after the appeal was heard in Frankfort, Ky.

Attorney Clark Brewster, who represents Medina Spirit's owner Amr Zedan, told the Paulick Report he unknowingly bought a horse at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale that was co-owned by Clay Patrick, who conducted the six-day hearing in August and was expected to make a recommendation on the appeal to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission within 60 to 90 days.

Zedan appealed the disqualification of Medina Spirit – who has since died – and Baffert wants the $7,500 fine and 90-day suspension he already served erased. Medina Spirit was disqualified after a positive test for betamethasone, which Baffert and Zedan attorneys said resulted from an ointment used to treat a skin rash on the colt.

Patrick operates family-owned Ramspring Farm, a breeding, boarding, and sales prep operation in Frankfort. Hip 409, a More Than Ready colt out of the Quality Road mare Road of Honor, was bought by Brewster, for $190,000 from the consignment of Taylor Made Sales Agency, Agent LXXVI. Brewster purchased two other yearlings in the opening week of the sale, a Gun Runner filly for $300,000 and a Ghostzapper filly for $50,000.

Keeneland sale catalogues do not list the owner or breeder of horses being sold, only the consignor.

“After I bought the colt I noticed how young the mare is (Road of Honor was foaled in 2015) and looked to see who owned her,” Brewster said. “When I saw that she had been bought by Ramspring Farm and Milam Farm, I asked Mark Taylor (Taylor Made's CEO) who that was.”

Taylor confirmed to Brewster that Clay Patrick runs Ramspring, a farm his father started in 1976. Milam Farm's ownership includes Michael Dudgeon, a member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

A Sept 21 recusal order signed by Patrick stated that two post-hearing conferences involving the different parties took place on Sept. 16 and Sept. 20.

According to Brewster, at the most recent conference, Patrick asked, “How do you want to handle this?”

Brewster said he had no problem with Patrick continuing on in his role as hearing officer but said KHRC attorney Jennifer Wolsing indicated the commission would file a motion for Patrick to recuse himself. (Wolsing did not respond to questions sent via email but a spokesperson replied to confirm the recusal, citing a “conflict of interest,” adding “next steps will be determined by a new hearing officer, once assigned.”)

What's next?

Brewster said once a new hearing officer is appointed, he or she may either conduct another hearing or possibly use the transcripts from the first appeal and make a recommendation based on that.

The recommendation would then go to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which can accept, reject or amend it. It remains to be seen if any commission members, a number of which have directly or indirectly conducted business with Baffert and/0r Zedan, will recuse themselves from the matter.

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