Bettors file lawsuits against Bob Baffert after Medina Spirit tests positive for regulated drug

·3 min read

Two groups of bettors have filed class-action lawsuits against trainer Bob Baffert after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for the regulated steroid betamethasone after the race.

The lawsuits accuse Baffert of fraud, racketeering and negligence, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, and one of them is seeking his complete removal from the sport. The bettors want compensation for the wagers they lost after Medina Spirit’s win at Churchill Downs.

“We all think it’s a long shot,” said one of the plaintiffs, Justin Wunderler, via the Courier Journal. “But if we don’t [speak up] for the bettors, it’s just going to keep on going. Nothing will change in my opinion.”

Wunderler, along with three others, said they were deprived of payouts worth at least $54,000 from the race after Medina Spirit’s win was counted before the horse tested positive for the banned substance. A plaintiff in the second lawsuit, Anthony Mattera, said he and his partners were going to collect at least $1 million in winnings.

It's unclear what bets specifically they had placed.

"As horseplayers, we’re used to being abused and mistreated,” Mattera said, via the Courier Journal. "We’re always left holding the bag and there never seems to be any consequences for those who are in a position to prevent something like this from happening, but won't. This lawsuit is about more than just the money. It’s way past time that trainers and racetracks get held to account for their actions and failures. My hope is that this lawsuit will change the way things are done and change behavior."

One of the lawsuits also alleged Baffert and Churchill Downs were negligent in failing to detect the positive test and ineligible horse before the race, and hopes to create a fund to settle wagers involving horses that are eventually disqualified, per the report.

Baffert’s attorney called the lawsuit “completely frivolous with zero legal merit.”

Baffert admitted to treating Medina Spirit after blaming ‘cancel culture’

Baffert admitted to treating Medina Spirit with an ointment that contained bethamethasone before he won the Kentucky Derby earlier this month.

Trainers are required to stop administering that at least 14 days before the race, but Baffert said he gave Medina Spirit the ointment up until the day before the race after the horse “developed dermatitis on his hind end.”

Baffert — who has a long history of similar violations — admitting to administering bethamethasone is a complete change from what he said just one day before on Fox News. Baffert actually tried to somehow blame the positive test, and his subsequent suspension from Churchill Downs, on “cancel culture.”

Medina Spirit's win at the Kentucky Derby is still up in the air. He did, however, pass three drug tests and is allowed to compete in Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

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