NYRA tries to prove Baffert is bad for racing’s public perception

Court hears expert testimony regarding betamethasone use on the late Medina Spirit

Updated 11:24 am

Horse Racing Nation’s article reports the following on Court proceedings in the New York Baffert case:

The New York Racing Association spent the second day of its hearing with trainer Bob Baffert in Manhattan trying to prove that his various medication violations could have a major impact on public perception of racing.

The bulk of NYRA’s arguments against Baffert stemmed from the organization’s claim that the trainer’s various drug violations have damaged the integrity and perception of its product. To demonstrate its point, NYRA brought up Heleski, a lecturer at the University of Kentucky, to discuss social license to operate.

“When someone is so well known that even the casual racing fan can identify them, they’re more likely to make an impact when some news breaks regarding that person,” Camie Heleski said during her testimony.

Look at this.

Heleski said that in her opinion, Baffert’s medication issues were worse for racing than those of lesser-known trainers because of his celebrity. She cited social media debate, various news stories, and Baffert being lampooned on the television show Saturday Night Live as examples of the trainer hurting public perception.

Baffert attorney Craig Robertson pushed back on the assertion during his cross examination, suggesting the embattled trainer has been good for racing throughout his career.

Celebrity? Notoriety is more like it. “ . . . . good for racing throughout his career”? Unbelievable.

Then Baffy’s lawyer made this statement in support of his client. Are you ready?

“Robertson specifically noted that Baffert was named the 2015 March of Dimes sportsman of the year and said he had made donations to aftercare organizations.”

Betamethasone use on Medina Spirit

The late Medina Spirit’s positive test for betamethasone after winning the 2021 Derby sparked the series of events that led to the hearing.

At long last we get proper answers regarding betamethasone and its use on Medina Spirit.

Pierre-Louis Toutain, past president of the European Association for Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, testified remotely from France.

While being questioned by NYRA attorney Henry Greenberg, Toutain said the amounts of medications detected in some of Baffert’s positive cases, including Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby betamethasone case, would have impacted performance.

“Yes,” Toutain said when asked whether the 21 picograms per milliliter of betamethasone found in Medina Spirit’s blood would have affected him. “Definitively.”

Toutain made it clear that he was referring to injected betamethasone. Baffert and his team have claimed the failed test was the result of a topical cream containing the corticosteroid. Toutain said earlier in the hearing that the level of betamethasone would have some systemic effect, not only at the joint injected.

At the end of the hearing, Sherwood will assemble a report with his findings, which a panel will review before making a final ruling.

Read full story at Horse Racing Nation »

Tuesday’s Horse

Official Blog of the Fund for Horses

Baffert’s motions to stop NYRA disciplinary case denied, Tuesday’s Horse, Jan. 24, 2022

• Header Photo Credit: Bob Baffert. AP Photo by Jae C. Hong

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