Bob Baffert Sues NYRA over Suspension amid Medina Spirit's Positive Drug Test

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIJune 14, 2021

Jockey John Velazquez, left, watches as trainer Bob Baffert holds up the winner's trophy after they victory with Medina Spirit in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Bob Baffert isn't giving up so easily.

According to TMZ Sports, the Hall of Fame trainer is suing the New York Racing Association, which suspended him last month amid the investigation into the failed drug test from his Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit. 

Baffert said he wants any punishments held off until the investigation is complete, and pointed out he is not accused of wrongdoing in the state of New York.

He is also seeking damages in the lawsuit, claiming that he is losing out on money because of his missed races.

A post-race drug test on Derby Day revealed that Medina Spirit tested positive for an illegal amount of betamethasone, which was confirmed at the start of June in the second part of the split sample test.

Original blood and urine samples will be tested for additional compounds after Baffert claimed ointment for a skin rash was responsible for the presence of the steroid. In his initial press conference on May 9, he denied knowledge of anything that may have compromised the result. 

Still, the Kentucky Horse Racing Association does not allow any amounts of betamethasone in horses on the day of the race, per Gary B. Graves of the Associated Press. 

The NYRA, which suspended Baffert from stabling horses at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Belmont Park and forbade him from running horses at any of its tracks, cited previous issues in other states, including Kentucky, California and Arkansas.

The latest incident is his fifth violation in 13 months, according to ESPN

Baffert was suspended from Churchill Downs for two years, lasting through the 2023 Spring Meet. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is still investigating the matter and will eventually decide whether to award the Derby victory to Mandaloun, who finished second in the race. 

Baffert and Zedan Racing Stables, the owners of Medina Spirit, have also filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, claiming the organization told Baffert and the owners that samples had been "damaged/contaminated" en route to the testing lab, according to Graves.