Bob Baffert sues New York Racing Association over his horse doping suspension

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Bob Baffert, whose Kentucky Derby-winning Medina Spirit tested positive for a banned substance, sued the New York Racing Association Monday for suspending him from races in the Empire State.

Baffert filed the lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court less than a month after his suspension was announced May 17.

Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned steroid, after his Kentucky Derby win.

Baffert was then banned from the Belmont Stakes and won’t be allowed to stable horses at any of the NYRA’s racetracks, including Aqueduct Saratoga and Belmont Park.

But Baffert argues in the lawsuit the suspension should be revoked.

“Medina Spirit has not been disqualified as the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Likewise, Baffert has not been suspended by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission,” the suit reads. “Neither has Baffert been presented with any formal allegations from the Gaming Commission concerning violation of any New York State statute or regulation.”

Though Baffert has had five other violations involving impermissible levels of medication in his horses over the past 13 months, he argues in the suit that bethamethasone is a common substance and may not have been used as a steroid.

The suit says that bethmethasone is a “a lawful, commonly used therapeutic anti-inflammatory medication.”

“Betamethasone itself is not a performance-enhancing drug. Rather, it is a substance that can suppress inflammation, much like similar corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone and prednisone. It is commonly administered in horses to reduce inflammation,” the suit reads.

The lawsuit also argues that NYRA does not have the legal authority to suspend Baffert, and that that authority rests with the state’s Gaming Commission.

Baffert is seeking a preliminary injunction, which would require NYRA to undo its suspension if granted by a federal judge.

“NYRA expects to make a final determination regarding the length and terms of Mr. Baffert’s suspension based on information revealed during the course of the ongoing investigation in Kentucky, such as the post-Kentucky Derby test results of Medina Spirit,” the association said in a press release when it suspended Baffert.

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