Kentucky Derby bettors suing Bob Baffert and seeking his removal from horse racing

BREAKING NEWS | Louisville Courier-Journal | Tim Sullivan

Read it at Courier-Journal.com

With Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit favored to win the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown Saturday at Pimlico, trainer Bob Baffert stands accused of fraud, racketeering and negligence in a pair of class-action lawsuits — one that seeks his removal from thoroughbred racing.

Bettors seeking compensation for wagers lost to Medina Spirit’s drug-tainted victory at Churchill Downs are pursuing separate complaints filed Thursday and Friday in California and Jefferson County courts.

The California suit says Baffert’s involvement in the sport poses “a threat of continuing criminal activity extending indefinitely into the future.” It asks that he and owner Amr Zedan be ordered to divest themselves “of any interest (direct or indirect) in any enterprise,” and that “reasonable restrictions” be imposed on the defendants’ future activities in thoroughbred racing.”

Baffert’s attorney, Craig Robertson, called the California lawsuit “completely frivolous with zero legal merit.” Plaintiff Justin Wunderler admitted it was a “longshot.”

“We all think it’s a longshot,” Wunderler said. “But if we don’t (speak up) for the bettors, it’s just going to keep on going. Nothing will change in my opinion.”

Wunderler and fellow plaintiffs Michael Beychok, Michael Meegan and Keith Mauer say they were deprived of payoffs worth a minimum of $54,000 because Medina Spirit’s Derby victory was made official before the colt tested positive for betamethasone

Anthony Mattera, the lead plaintiff in the Jefferson County case, says he and his partners were in line to collect at least $1 million in winnings were it not for Medina Spirit’s victory being declared official.

“As horseplayers, we’re used to being abused and mistreated,” Mattera said. “We’re always left holding the bag and there never seem to be any consequences for those who are in a position to prevent something like this from happening, but won’t. This lawsuit is about more than just the money. It’s way past time that trainers and racetracks get held to account for their actions and failures. My hope is that this lawsuit will change the way things are done and change behavior.”

Mattera’s suit alleges negligence against both Baffert and Churchill Downs, Inc., and holds the racetrack responsible for failing to detect and scratch ineligible horses prior to them competing. He seeks to enjoin operators from conducting races without a system to screen ineligible horses before a race and to create a fund to settle wagers involving horses that are eventually disqualified.

“At the very minimum, Bob Baffert was extremely careless with administering betamethasone to Medina Spirit, and Churchill Downs has absolutely no system in place to prevent ineligible horses from competing in its races,” said Mattera’s attorney, Will Nefzger. “They have it completely backwards and allowed this to happen. This lawsuit strikes at the heart of a couple huge problem in horse racing – continued and repeated medication violations by trainers and continually forcing horseplayers to bear the brunt of careless and reckless behavior.”

Churchill Downs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Though the California suit does not include the racetrack as a defendant, Wunderler said future actions may involve both tracks and racing commissions that have “allowed Baffert to push the line numerous times.”

At present, Baffert is suspended only at Churchill Downs. He has three horses entered at Pimlico on Saturday — including the two leading Preakness contenders — and another 3-year-old scheduled to run at Santa Anita.

“If the allegations are correct, the guy’s a recidivist,” said William Federman, attorney for the California plaintiffs. “He’s a repeat offender. He doesn’t deserve the privilege of continuing in this industry where license is required. . .If you’re a barber and you cut off three people’s ears, you think you deserve to continue being a barber?”

Read more: Does Bob Baffert’s past drug issues deplete his benefit of the doubt in Medina Spirit case?

Tim Sullivan: 502-582-4650, tsullivan@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @TimSullivan714  


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Bob Baffert Sued by Gamblers over Kentucky Derby — Dirty Horse Cost Us A Fortune!!!; TMZ: 14 May 2021


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Featured Image: Kentucky Derby Horse Medina Spirit profile page, KentuckyDerby.com »

6 thoughts on “Kentucky Derby bettors suing Bob Baffert and seeking his removal from horse racing”

  1. It’s about time that some entity holds this doping cheating racehorse killer accountable. It should be obvious to everybody that he has direct connections to the top level KY Commissioners. These Commissioners get big bucks to sit on the boards of the big farms in KY (Spendthrift, Winstar, Stonestreet etc) all of whom win most of the big races. These Commissioners have exclusive inside information and control over doping, what dope will be tested in what race, control over paperwork and since it’s numbers the system is like a piece of swiss cheese – full of holes, but people life Baffert and his gang use this to their advantage. For example, a Commissioner may know that on a particular day or race that they aren’t testing for a certain performance enhancing drug and then relay that to somebody on Baffert’s team to inject the racehorse with that substance and, presto, they win. Very possible scenario. Baffert has been putting hundreds of racing stables out of business because owners/trainers can’t compete with this level of potential cheating. Baffert is not an exceptional Trainer, rather, he’s an exceptional cheater and people are losing their shirts. When you talk to most racehorse owners they all say that they don’t mind losing if it were a fair level playing field, but when you’re putting out hundreds of thousands of dollars watching this cheater win race after race with no accountability for doping positives then you would be stupid to continue. Aside from all this corruption, let’s focus on what really counts here: the racehorses. We’ve documented, with names, tracks, and/or dates at least 40 racehorses that died under the custody of Baffert. We’ve documented about 22 that has either died or disappeared off the radar. About 50% of the racehorses were, most likely and there is every indication, insured with 6-figures. We found a distinct pattern. Racehorses were purchased for big bucks. Baffert races them about 4 times on average to see if they are “stake or Derby” material. When the racehorse is not performing or not performing enough to make it at high levels then they suddenly die many from cardiovascular collapse. I’m no dummy. I’ve been around this business for too long and it’s my assertion here today that Baffert has racehorses killed for their owners to reap back the 6-figures that they paid for the horse when it doesn’t perform or shows that it’s not Derby material. I think there’s a silent agreement and that’s why, despite the fact that Baffert has a long list of dead racehorses, owners send their horses to him knowing that it’s zippo risk because they will get their money back and if that means killing their racehorse then they just turn a blind eye and then use the equine insurance money payout to go out and buy another one. This seems like a highly likely scenario. Why in the hell would an owner send a racehorse to a repeated killer? You would think that out of the hundreds of Trainers they can go to they continually send them to him? Something sinister going on in Baffert’s barn and has been for a very long time. So where is the FBI? It’s long overdue for an outside neutral law enforcement agency to get involved and to investigate this alleged criminal activity. Probably the only reason why it’s never been done is because the racehorses have no voice, they are defenseless and they are the true victims here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Gina for the extra insight into how these doping scams run.

      In the meantime it is heart rending that people are more upset about gambling on doped racehorses than the number of innocent horses racing torture and kill. And it is full out torture as you already know.

      Like

    1. Let’s hope so. If Baffert gets away with this, I’m pretty sure that it will do more harm than good for racing. Let them put the last nail in their own coffin.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. We particularly like suing the “for his removal” part. Not sure what impact that would have with all the other doping going on — it’s so egregious. But just having Baffy out of horse racing has to be seen as a positive. We would have a chance to start focusing on all the others who are doing the same thing.

        Liked by 3 people

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