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Judge Denies Baffert To Remain But Postpones Suspension To April 4 – CBS Baltimore

(AP) – A Kentucky judge denied Bob Baffert’s request to uphold his 90-day suspension but delayed it until April 4 to allow his representatives to seek emergency relief through the Court of Appeals. of the state.

Kentucky Equestrian Commission managers last month suspended Baffert for 90 days, fined him $7,500, and stripped Medina Spirit of running Medina Spirit for having the corticosteroid betamethasone in his system when he won the Kentucky Derby. last year. Baffert’s appeal to racing officials was denied, but the suspension slated to begin on March 8 was delayed pending a trial.

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Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate said Monday that the “court understands the gravity of this ruling” against Baffert and will lessen the impact by continuing to enforce the suspension. He added, “However, in the absence of relief from a review court, the penalties imposed by Stewards Decisions 21-0009 and 21-0010 will take effect on April 4, 2022. .”

Baffert attorney Clark Brewster in a statement expressed disappointment at the court’s decision and said, “Given the magnitude of the matter, we intend to appeal immediately to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.”

Baffert’s attorneys argued that the betamethasone in Medina Spirit’s system came from the topical ointment, not the injection, which is prohibited. Racing officials say regardless of the source, betamethasone is not authorized for race day use.

If maintained, the suspension would begin at the end of the qualifying season for the Kentucky Derby scheduled for May 7 at Churchill Downs. It will effectively remove the Hall of Fame trainer from participating in the Triple Crown, which includes Preakness on May 21 and Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Craig Robertson, another lawyer for Baffert, argued in court last week that if Baffert is forced to serve a suspended sentence now, “he will never get those days back if he wins the case.” appeal.”

The commission’s lawyers cited Baffert’s four drug violations in the past year, and attorney Jennifer Wolsing said he was “at high risk of recidivism.”

Wingate refuted Baffert’s claims of irreparable harm and said that unlike an athlete’s finite time in terms of character and performance, as a coach he is more like a coach rather than an athlete. The judge writes that the horses, as athletes, have a finite amount of time in terms of eligibility and performance.

Wingate also said the court was confident the suspension would not destroy Baffert’s career and noted the coach’s intention to continue. Any harm from missing out on Triple Crown or other races will be monetary and irreparable under state law.

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“Baffert’s track record speaks for itself,” the ruling stated.

Wingate also writes that the appeals court ruling in the 2015 case against trainer H. Graham Motion clarifies that the Kentucky Equestrian Commission has the power to establish regulations and what effects a banned drug has. involve.

Baffert also sued Churchill Downs in federal court, seeking to challenge his two-year suspension at home to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.

Animal Wellness Action CEO Marty Irby welcomed the Kentucky court’s decision and said in a statement that horse racing has been hampered “time and again” by the Baffert scandals.

Irby added: “Baffert has been circumventing the law and evading the consequences of his actions for so long – The run for the commission would be opened with greater credibility than we would have seen in years if Baffert and His horses are not present. . ”

Racing officials in California, where Baffert is based, said they would honor the suspension if it was upheld. Medina Spirit died on December 6 of a heart attack after training at a Santa Anita racetrack. An abdominal surgery did not find the exact cause of his death.

PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo also expressed relief at the decision, in a statement that horses still need protection from Baffert’s “experimental pharmacology.”

Guillermo added, “If Baffert is suspended, we hope he will use those 90 days to think about retiring from racing permanently.”

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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/21/judge-rejects-baffert-stay-but-delays-suspension-to-april-4/ Judge Denies Baffert To Remain But Postpones Suspension To April 4 – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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