Bettors File Lawsuit Against Bob Baffert & Medina Spirit Owners for Racketeering Fraud
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Bob Baffert, Medina Spirit Owners
Attorneys for four bettors filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California late Thursday against Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, his company and Zedan Racing, owners of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.
The bettors are suing Baffert for racketeering and fraud, alleging that Medina Spirit’s win in the Derby constituted illegal gambling. Days after winning, the horse tested positive for Betamethasone, a steroid that reduces inflammation but is not allowed within two weeks of racing because it helps to serve as a masking agent to more serious doping drugs.
If a second sample comes back as positive, Medina Spirit will be stripped of the win and its owners would be forced to return the $1.86 million winner’s prize. That’s not the case for the bettors. Anyone who bet on Medina Spirit would get to keep their money and anyone who bet on the presumptive new winner Mandaloun would not be given credit.
“Bettors…rely on participants’ representation that they comport with these laws, regulations and rules in order to properly determine which horses to be on,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants and other owners and trainers intend that bettors rely on these representations in order to encourage wagering in racing, thereby increasing the purse total.”
The bettors, Michael Beychock, Justin Wunderler, Michael Meegan and Keith Mauer, all had Mandaloun in their betting combinations. The two largest bettors — Beychok and Wunderler — said they would have made in between $10,000 and $100,000 if Mandaloun won the Derby or was given the win in the betting world. The bettors ask for the money that they say is rightfully deserved plus additional damages, among other things.
“The bettor thrives the game,” Wunderler told The Action Network. “Without the bettor, there is no horse racing. There is no billion dollar breeding farms in Kentucky. There is no trainer with million dollar homes in Los Angeles.”
The rules state that “wagers shall be made on the basis of the order of finish as purposely posted and declared ‘official” and Medina Spirit, having done nothing to disqualify itself during the race, was declared the official winner. But all hope is not lost.
In 2018, a harness race bettor named Jeffrey Tretter sued when the horse he bet on was declared the winner for prize money purposes, but not betting purposes, after the winning horse was found out to have doped.
The lawsuit on behalf of Tretter, who would have won $31,835 for picking the first four horses to finish in order, was financed by PETA and sued the doped horse’s trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr. and the horse’s owner J.L. Sadowsky. The two settled with Tretter by paying him $20,000 with an additional $7,500 to go to a racehorse adoption program.
California is a fair venue for the lawsuit since Baffert’s business and Zedan Racing are both located within the state.