Bob Baffert , Hall of Fame horse trainer, filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Churchill Downs. He claims that his two-year suspension from the track was a "malicious effort" to "destroy" his career.
The Western District of Kentucky lawsuit was filed days after Medina Spirit, one of Baffert’s most famous horses, was posthumously stripped of the Kentucky Derby victory.
After the race, Medina Spirit was found with traces of legal steroid Otomax or Betamethasone in his system.
It can be used to help horses manage inflammation and pain. Many venues require that the medication be removed from the animals' system by race day. Veterinarians warn that excessive use of the drug can cause more severe bone and joint problems.
Clark Brewster, Baffert's attorney, stated in a statement that "Churchill Downs know the post-race report was caused by the use of an innocent ointment known Otomax."
They know that it was prescribed by Medina Spirit’s veterinarian and reported to the data bank promptly and correctly the day it was administered. They are aware that no rule was broken and that the ointment couldn't have improved Medina Spirit’s performance. It is absurd to maintain that otherwise."
Baffert's lawyers alleged that Churchill Downs Inc., the parent company of the famous track in Louisville, "has caused significant damage to Baffert’s ability to carry out his customary business at a national level."
According to the lawsuit, "it is evident that CDI's targeted sanction have the singular goal of destroying Baffert’s career."
Churchill Downs Inc. attacked Baffert Tuesday, claiming that his lawsuit was "disappointing, but certainly not surprising."
According to the company statement, "His claims were unfounded and consistent with his pattern failures at drug testing, denials, excuses, and attempts to blame others and find loopholes in an effort to avoid taking responsibility."
"These actions have damaged the reputations of Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and the entire Thoroughbred racing sector. Churchill Downs will defend its rights and fight this absurd lawsuit. The integrity of our races, safety of horses, and the trust of millions of bettors and fans who attend every year on the first Saturday of May are all at stake.
Medina Spirit succumbed to an apparent heart attack during a Santa Anita workout Dec. 6.