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Bob Baffert sues Churchill Downs to get 2-year suspension overturned

Lawyers for Baffert argue Churchill Downs does not regulate horseracing in Kentucky and can’t ban a trainer.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Famed horse trainer Bob Baffert is taking his battle to federal court over his 2-year suspension by Churchill Downs. Baffert and his legal team have filed a lawsuit to overturn the suspension.

Lawyers for Baffert argue Churchill Downs does not regulate horseracing in Kentucky and can’t ban a trainer.

Baffert was suspended by the track following the 147th Kentucky Derby after winner Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, the anti-inflammatory drug used as a therapeutic medication in horses.

The lawsuit says Churchill Downs knew the positive result stemmed from an ointment prescribed by Medina Spirit’s veterinarian. They do point out the drug is legal but illegal if it is injected. Kentucky horse racing rules requires 14-days withdrawal time from the medication and any level of detection on race day is a violation.

On Monday, February 21, Churchill Downs announced that Medina Spirit had been disqualified as the winner of the 2021 Derby race.

Mandaloun, trained by Louisville native Brad Cox, is now listed as the winner of the 147th Kentucky Derby, followed by Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality. Mandaloun's owners will receive the $1.8 million winner's purse.

RELATED: Medina Spirit disqualified as 2021 Kentucky Derby winner

Baffert is also facing a 90-day suspension with penalties from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that begins a March 8.

Medina Spirit died from natural causes last December. The horse's name was removed from the winners wall overlooking the paddock area at the track

Churchill Downs released a statement regarding Baffert’s lawsuit calling it “disappointing but certainly not surprising.” They also said that his claims are “meritless.”

Officials said they will “fight” the lawsuit and defend their company's rights.

“What’s at stake here is the integrity of our races, the safety of horses and the trust of the millions of fans and bettors who join us every year on the first Saturday in May,” they added.

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RELATED: "Heart of a champion", Medina Spirit will be laid to rest in Kentucky

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