Trainer Bob Baffert, who began a 90-day suspension on April 4, has filed paperwork in federal court in Kentucky to withdraw his motion for preliminary injunction in his civil suit against Churchill Downs, Inc. Baffert had been seeking a preliminary injunction to stave off the racetrack’s private ban on his participation in the 2022 Kentucky Derby while he pursued a civil case to invalidate the legality of the track’s ban.
This week, Baffert began serving the suspension he was given by Kentucky stewards for the betamethasone overage from Medina Spirit following last year’s Kentucky Derby. The California Horse Racing Board, which governs racing in the state where Baffert is based year-round, has reciprocated the Kentucky stewards’ suspension. In accordance with California regulations requiring a trainer to disperse their stable while serving a suspension longer than 60 days, Baffert’s signage has been removed from his barns in the state and his horses have been transferred to other trainers.
Baffert had tried to get a stay of suspension that would have allowed him to keep training while he appealed the Kentucky stewards’ ruling. In an unusual (but not unprecedented) move, Kentucky commission staff denied his request, citing his lengthy recent history of therapeutic medication overages and his shifting stories about where the medication could have come from.
Since he has begun serving the suspension, any action by the federal court in Kentucky’s Western District regarding his ability to saddle horses in the Derby would have been moot, since he’s scheduled to be suspended by the state commission through early July regardless of his relationship with racetrack ownership entities.
Baffert is not withdrawing his broader action against CDI however, and appears to still be seeking a ruling from the court invalidating Churchill’s ability to ban him from their entries, stabling, and from the 2023 Kentucky Derby.
CDI’s move to bar him from the Derby and Oaks for two years was made by the track independently of the Kentucky commission and was announced well before the Kentucky stewards made their ruling in the case.