Trainer Bob Baffert, left, celebrates with owner Amr Zedan after winning the 147th Kentucky Derby with Medina Spirit. Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Baffert, Zedan File Suit Against KHRC

TVG Staff Report

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, trainer of Kentucky Derby (G1) first-place finisher Medina Spirit, and owner Amr Zedan of Zedan Racing Stables have filed suit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) seeking more testing of post-race samples in the wake of the colt’s positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone following the May 1 classic. 

The suit was filed on June 7 in Franklin Circuit Court and is seeking an injunction to prohibit the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission “from violating the Plantiffs substantive and procedural due process rights with regards to the analysis of the split biological urine sample” following the 147th Kentucky Derby and also argues the manner in which the betamethasone found its way into Medina Spirit’s system.

Betamethasone, a Class C drug, is allowed in Kentucky as a therapeutic. However, state rules require at least a 14-day withdrawl time and any level of detection on race day is a violation.

After initially claiming Medina Spirit had never been treated with the medication, Baffert released a statement two days later saying the colt had been treated with the ointment Otomax once a day after the colt developed a dermatitis on his hind end following his runner-up effort in the April 3 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) and that he was informed on May 10 that betamethasone was one of the substances in the medication.

Results of the split sample confirming the betamethasone positive at a level of 25 picograms per milliliter of blood or plasma were acknowledged by Baffert’s attorney W. Craig Roberston III on June 2. 

The lawsuit alleges the KHRC refused to complete a complete analysis of Medina Spirit’s urine sample for other compounds present in Otomax, including clotrimazole and gentamicin, as well as the specific chemical form of betamethasone used in the topical application.

“The KHRC has refused this reasonable request and indicated it has no intention of allowing the urine split sample to be tested in any way,” the lawsuit states, adding “the split urine sample is the best evidence available to determine whether the betamethasone present in Medina Spirit was present due to an injection or the topical cream Otomax.”

The lawsuit also argues the KHRC’s classification of betamethasone is reliant on “studies and empirical data related to an intra-articular joint injection” and that regulations “do not discuss or include any reference to the use of betamethasone as a component of a topical ointment or cream.” 

“There is a huge difference in a betamethasone finding due to an interarticular joint injection versus one from a topical ointment,” the lawsuit states. 

A hearing for the temporary injunction will take place on the morning of June 11.