Bob Baffert, Hall of Fame trainer, testifies that Churchill Downs suspension caused him to lose his reputation
Baffert seeks a temporary injunction from the track to end his two-year suspension imposed by the track after Medina Spirit failed a drug screen following the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
LOUISVILLE (Ky.) -- Churchill Downs never gave notice or reached out to explain the suspension of two years, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert stated Friday in federal court. He reiterated that the penalty has caused irreparable damage to his business as well as his reputation.
Baffert sued the historic track, seeking a temporary injunction that will stop his suspension for failing a drug test by Medina Spirit. The test was performed after the colt placed first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Baffert stated that "they've hurt my reputation" during almost two hours of testimony at U.S. District Court." My horses should have made more money. I didn't run for more than 90 days and had to let people go." Churchill Downs is asking for the case to be dismissed. They cite nine failed tests by Baffert trained horses as justification for disciplining the most prominent figure in horse racing. Gamine, the 2020 Kentucky Oaks third place finisher, was on the list of violators. He was eventually disqualified.
Track president Mike Anderson stated that Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen made the decision to fire Baffert after he refused to accept responsibility for repeated violations during a news conference held at his barn, following the revelations about Medina Spirit's failed test.
Churchill Downs' attorneys Matt Benjamin and Christine Demana also refuted Baffert's claim that the business has suffered by noting his most promising 3-year-old colts at this year's Derby.
Arabian Knight, one of the two, won last week’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, winning by 5 1/2 lengths. This was Baffert’s record sixth win in this race. Baffert's suspension means that the horse cannot qualify for Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
The slide also showed that Baffert horses won 477 starts between May 10, 2021 and December 20,22. They won marquee races like the 2021 Breeders Cup Juvenile (Corniche the Eclipse winner) and Grade 1 wins in Pennsylvania Derby (Taiba).Friday's hearing was 3 1/2 hours long. It followed four hours of testimony Thursday. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings did not give any indication of when she would rule. Brewster stated that he expected a decision "within a few days." Baffert testified that Churchill Downs had been a good friend to him, but he also noted that he was paying for his tickets at the track and had to "grovel" to get them. He also said that he tried his best to be an ambassador for horse racing, especially after American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in 2015, and Justify won it in 2018.