Bob Baffert stay not granted on appeal by the KHRC following Medina Spirit Kentucky Derby positive test

March 4, 2022

Unprecedented 90 day suspension and initial denial of a stay pending appeal by the KHRC is upheld after a special hearing

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) held a special meeting this morning to consider a stay of the 90 day suspension handed trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert had filed for an injunction in Franklin County Court in Kentucky and a hearing had been set for earlier this week. That hearing was postponed as Judge Wingate stated should the KHRC grant a stay the hearing would be moot. He also stated he did not recall one case and he had presided over many where a stay pending appeal was not granted. Judge Wingate postponed the Baffert hearing until March 17th, and would rule by March 21st. The parties agreed to hold the Baffert suspension in abeyance until March 21st. Judge Wingate also stated this case had unusual circumstances and not everyone had the legal team Bob Baffert had.

Attorney Clark Brewster gave testimony at the hearing on behalf of Bob Baffert. Jennifer Wolsing, KHRC General Counsel testified on behalf of the commission. The KHRC denied stay following the hearing.

Wolsing stressed the past positive tests of both Gamine and Charlatan in Arkansas as reasons to deny the stay. She said it was to protect the horses from further risk due to the likelihood Bob Baffert would continue to drug or fail to maintain close enough watch to prevent overages or drugging. She did not mention anything about granting stays for trainers with more positive tests, or allowing them to compete while preventing Baffert. She also stressed the KHRC position that betamethasone was not permitted by regulation at any level on race day regardless of how it entered the system. She stated the language was unless otherwise allowed which she stated it wasn’t. That seems to be a point of contention as there is language in the rules that allows it with a 14 day withdrawal window. Those matters will be decided in the appeal process, today was strictly to determine if a stay should or should not be granted.

A stay pending appeal is typically granted as should you win the appeal, if you did not have a stay you will have already paid the penalty for a case you won. You cannot undue that so stays are generally granted. The Bob Baffert case resulting from the Kentucky Derby Medina Spirit betamethasone positive has been handled differently from most if not all similar cases. Keep in mind this stay is a separate issue from the two year ban Churchill Downs placed on Baffert. It is also separate from the Federal Lawsuit Bob Baffert filed against Churchill Downs et al for lack of due process etc. It also has nothing to do with the ban NYRA imposed and for now Baffert has been successful in having lifted.

Following the ruling attorney Clark Brewster released the following statement:

“KHRC’s decision is a sudden, arbitrary departure from its own 100-year precedent and from the general practice of courts everywhere in the United States. Let’s be clear: This is part of a continuing coordinated attack against Bob by powerful forces that are rife with ethical and business conflicts and that want to keep Bob’s horses from competing against theirs at the track. We look forward to obtaining a stay in an impartial, unbiased court of law.”

“Let’s also remember that the facts and law in the overall case are on Bob’s side. Fact: Kentucky regulates only the injectable form of betamethasone acetate, and not the topical betamethasone valerate. Fact: Medina Spirit was treated with an ointment, not an injection. And fact: the amount detected could not have impacted the horse’s performance or the outcome of the Kentucky Derby.”

Clark Brewster

As for the stay pending appeal it will come down to Judge Wingate on the 21st after all.

Photo: Medina Spirit in his stall prior to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic

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