'It would end Bob Baffert as we know him': Trainer's legal team makes its appeal

Posted at 3:59 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 19:24:54-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — If Bob Baffert’s attorney is to be believed, we may have seen the last of the Hall of Fame trainer if his 90-day suspension is upheld.

“Being sat down for 90 days, having to disband your barn, disperse over 100 horses, layoff 80 employees is very draconian and would have a significant impact on him. It would certainly end Bob Baffert as we know him,” said attorney Craig Robertson.

Robertson spoke with LEX 18 following two hours of testimony Thursday morning in Franklin County Circuit Court, where Baffert appealed the decision by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to suspend the trainer for 90-days.

Trace amounts of the steroid, Betamethasone were found in 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit. Baffert’s camp said it was a result of a topical ointment given to treat a skin irritation. But Jennifer Wolsing, counsel for the plaintiff, said they have numerous positive test results from Baffert-trained horses, and that there have been too many recent instances as it relates to Baffert’s stable.

“Mr. Baffert’s actions present an unprecedent risk. He went on a spree within 365 days with four positive results,” Wolsing stated.

Mr. Robertson feels there’s another problem with this suspension; the penalty phase came before the trial phase.

“They’re asking Mr. Baffert to serve the punishment before he’s been heard on the merits, and actually have his day in court,” Robertson said.

Robertson said applying a topical ointment, rather than injecting, isn’t illegal, nor was the amount of Betamethasone found to be in Medina Spirit’s system following the race. He also said in court, that Mr. Baffert would serve his suspension if found guilty, but to make him do so before he’s given a hearing would cause irreparable damage to his business and his career.

He also believes that his client is being targeted because of who he is, and because of the cloud of smoke that’s been around him for several years. Notably, in California Baffert’s Triple Crown winner, Justify was found to have had Scopolamine in its system, but on the west coast, Scopolamine is commonly found in hay.

“I think there’s a false narrative that’s been perpetrated by some that Mr. Baffert is a bad actor, which is simply not true,” Robertson said.

Robertson also said in court, and on-camera that he’d put Baffert’s medical records up against any trainer in the sport.

Circuit Court Judge, Thomas Wingate is expected to make a ruling on the suspension on Monday. He does not have the authority to shorten or lengthen its term. The decision is simply to uphold the KHRC’s 90-day penalty or to grant the defense counsel’s request for a stay.