Baffert’s appeal of 90-day suspension denied by judge: His ‘track record speaks for itself’
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert’s request for a stay of his 90-day suspension was denied by a Kentucky judge on Wednesday, but the trainer still has a chance to appeal the decision.
Though his request was denied by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate, Baffert will be allowed to appeal the decision to the Kentucky court of appeals.
Baffert’s Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test in 2021, resulting in Baffert’s 90-day suspension from Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and a two-year suspension from all Churchill Downs racetracks. The horse tested positive for betamethasone, a prohibited drug on race day.
In February, the KHRC handed down the suspension and disqualified Medina Spirit as the Derby winner, two months after the horse died at Santa Anita Park in California shortly after a workout in December.
In the request for a stay, Baffert’s lawyer Craig Robertson argued the trainer’s career would never recover if the legal action against him were not stopped, but Wingate did not agree.
“Baffert claims that given his unique profession this suspension will destroy his business, require him to vacate his barns, remove his signage, transfer his horses to other trainers, and layoff employees,” the judge wrote in his denial. “On the outset, the Court is confident that Baffert’s career will not be destroyed by this ninety (90) day suspension. Baffert’s track record speaks for itself. Nevertheless, Baffert’s claimed injuries again generally relate to economic harm, which is not irreparable under Kentucky law. Also, any potential harm to reputation is not worthy of injunctive relief.”
Wingate agreed to postpone the 90-day suspension, which could have begun as early as Tuesday, March 22, to April 4, giving time for Baffert to appeal.
Marty Irby, the vice president of public policy and communications for Animal Wellness Action and the Center for Humane Economy, praised the denial of the stay against Baffert on the sole basis of animal rights.
“American horse racing has been plagued by Baffert’s scandals time and time again, and while justice in the tragic life and death of Medina Spirit may be never be fully served, it is important that we recognize and uphold meaningful penalties and punishment for those who seek to rig the system and cheat the betting public,” Irby said in a statement. “Unlike the Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrongs of the world, horses have no voice or choice in what substances or drugs are impacting their performance or welfare.”
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