Medina Spirit Test Leads Mandaloun Kentucky Derby Bettor To Seek Lawsuit Options
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Kentucky Derby Medina Spirit, Mandaloun.
When word circulated Sunday that Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive, and upon appeal, would make Mandaloun the winner, the obvious question was broached.
"Is it possible that all the Mandaloun tickets are winners and all the Medina Spirit tickets are losers?'
The short answer is no.
That's because the rules state that "wagers shall be made on the basis of the order of finish as purposely posted and declared 'official.'" Medina Spirit, having done nothing to disqualify itself during the race, was declared the official winner.
So even if Mandaloun, by Medina Spirit's disqualification, gets the Derby win, and his owners, trainer and jockey are given Medina's Spirit's prize money, bettors seem to be out of luck.
From horse racing insiders I spoke to, it's a lock.
Short of a promotion — there's no shortage of those — no track or horse betting app would give any money to those who had Mandaloun.
But there's a chance anyone who had winning combinations of Mandaloun could retroactively cash in through a lawsuit.
Justin Wunderler hopes so. He's a lifetime horse bettor, who is very vocal on Twitter through his handle, @SwiftHitter. He says he has about $40,000 to make if Mandaloun would be made the winner for bettors and thinks there's at least another $1 million that other people could collect. That's why he said he's talking to lawyers to represent him and others in a class action lawsuit.
Using the odds and hold as a guide, Mandaloun's 26-1 closing odds at the Derby means that $4.3 million was bet on the horse, according to Ed DeRosa of TwinSpires.com.
With one offs and paper tickets, a lot of that money could be unrecoverable, but the hope is in the fact that each successive year has more electronic receipts.
In 1968, the only other time a Kentucky Derby horse was disqualified after a drug test, the Louisville Times noted that "the switchboard was swamped…with big bettors and $2 bettors."
But those who had money on the second horse that became the champion and got the $122,600 prize, Forward Pass, never had much hope.
Soon after the decision to reverse course, an Associated Press reporter called a New York bookmaker to hear his thoughts.
"I pay only on Dancer's Image," the bookmaker bluntly told the reporter.
However, there is precedent for a bettor to claw back money. 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.
Wunderler said that, should he sue, he plans to name Bob Baffert as a defendant as well as the race track's that have enabled his behavior.
Baffert has vehemently denied that he gave the horse the inflammatory drug that he tested positive for.