Federal Court rules against famed horse trainer Bob Baffert in his lawsuit against Churchill Downs


A federal court in Kentucky has dismissed the last remaining claim in a lawsuit brought by Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert against the company that runs the Kentucky Derby, according to court filings.

Baffert sued Churchill Downs Inc. in 2022 after suspending it for two years following the failed drug test of 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

Baffert had argued that his suspension had a negative effect on his business and reputation.

Earlier this year, the Western District of Kentucky judge denied his request for an injunction lifting a two-year ban imposed by Churchill Downs and denied all but one of Baffert’s claims. In the only remaining claim, Baffert alleged that Churchill Downs violated his due process rights in his Kentucky-issued horse trainer’s license by suspending him.

Wednesday’s memorandum from U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings determined that any injuries to Baffert did not constitute a violation of due process because he could not prove he was deprived of a property interest.

Baffert had argued that his state-issued coaching license had been rendered worthless by the suspension by Churchill Downs.

In the ruling, the judge said “uncontested evidence demonstrates that Baffert’s license is not worthless,” such as the fact that he was able to use it “to win more than a million dollars worth of horses. racing in the Commonwealth” at other racecourses. The judge also noted that he could continue to use his Kentucky license to train horses, enter his horses in races, and apply for stall occupancy, even beyond the races.

CNN has reached out to Baffert’s attorney for comment.

Baffert became the winningest trainer in Preakness Stakes history after National Treasure crossed the finish line first at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday.

Earlier Saturday, Baffert made headlines when Havnameltdown, a horse he trained, was euthanized after sustaining a serious left front leg injury during an undercard race.

“Totally devastated after that horse got hurt,” an emotional Baffert said after the National Treasure win. “The emotions of this match. There are so many responsibilities for a trainer… Winning this, losing this horse today really hurt but I’m happy for (jockey) Johnny (Velasquez) that he won. I have a great team, I have my boys with me. I’m sorry but it was a very emotional day.

Baffert, who has trained more Triple Crown race winners (17) than any other trainer, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2009. He won the award for coach of the year four times.

Medina Spirit, who was a 12-to-1 favorite at the time of publication, was the first to cross the line at the 2021 Kentucky Derby. But a blood sample revealed betamethasone – an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid sometimes used to relieve pain joints – in the horse on race day, which is not allowed by Kentucky equine protocols.

Baffert said an ointment for dermatitis could have been the cause of the test result.

After the Medina Spirit blood test, Baffert was also suspended by the New York Racing Association, a ban that ended in January. He missed the Preakness in 2022 because he was banned at the time by the Maryland Horse Racing Commission.

Medina Spirit collapsed and died while training in December 2021. His Kentucky Derby win was vacated in February 2022.


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