Lawsuit Fails To Get Bob Baffert’s Muth Into 2024 Kentucky Derby

, , ,
Written By Evan Scrimshaw | Last Updated
Kentucky Derby Muth Lawsuit

A lawsuit by the owner of Muth, Amr Zedan, has failed to get the Arkansas Derby winner into the Kentucky Derby. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry ruled Thursday in favor of Churchill Downs, effectively ending any chance Muth will be in the Run for the Roses. Zedan sued because the horse’s trainer, Bob Baffert, continues to serve a suspension from the track. Baffert was not a party to the lawsuit.

Churchill Downs Beats Bob Baffert In Court Again … By Proxy

The arguments by Churchill Downs were straightforward, if not iron-clad. It claimed that Baffert has signed a Triple Crown nomination form that includes a provision that any of the three tracks can exclude a trainer’s horses “for any reason”.

CDI also alleged that allowing a horse trained by someone whose horse tested positive for a banned substance in 2021 is unjust to the rest of the field.

Zedan’s claim was three-fold:

  • that this ban isn’t based in any contractual or common law
  • that the race will be damaged without the presence of Muth
  • that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s efforts to create a level playing field will be undermined.

The second argument of Zedan’s seemed the most spurious. Churchill Downs, as the host, has the right to make decisions others may perceive to hurt the Kentucky Derby. That said, there was a further complicating factor of a Kentucky law designed to make the dismissal of dodgy lawsuits easier.

The question of why Zedan waited so long to file this court case was brought up at a hearing on Monday. Zedan’s lawyer argued that filing before Muth had won the Arkansas Derby would have been filing on a hypothetical basis. The filing was made imminently upon Muth’s Arkansas Derby win, when he would have had enough Road To The Kentucky Derby points to be in the race (if Bob Baffert-trained horses were allowed to earn points).

Zedan’s argument boils down to the notion that he made financial decisions based on information that he’d have the ability to have Baffert train these horses and run in the Derby.

What Muth Lawsuit Ruling Means For Zedan

While an appeal is planned, it is not guaranteed such an appeal will be heard quickly. Even if it is, there might not be enough to overturn the trial judge’s decision. The fact that Zedan had an alternative path forward was crucial to the judge’s determination. Zedan was given a deadline to transfer Baffert horses elsewhere.

This decision does not rule on the nature of the broader lawsuit, namely the fact that Zedan bought $10.7M worth of horses in the hopes of getting them into the Derby with Baffert, but the judge denied the injunction that would have forced Muth into the field.

The judge mentioned concern for the “innocent third parties who will have their horses removed from the Derby field” should he have granted Zedan’s injunction. That said, with the injunction denied, the best Zedan can hope for, barring relief on appeal, is compensation, not entry into the 150th Kentucky Derby.

Muth To The Preakness?

Bob Baffert has trained six Kentucky Derby winners and won another 11 Triple Crown races in his career. The sheer fact of Baffert having a horse in the Derby would have been huge. Although this lawsuit was always a longshot, its failure impacts the rest of the odds board. With Muth’s exclusion, this will yield shorter prices on other contenders in the field.

At the end of the day, the impact of this decision likely is not truly knowable until after the Preakness and the Belmont, both of which Muth is eligible to enter. If Muth ends up being another Baffert master class and wins one or both of them, then this decision will live in infamy. If Muth is flat, then this will be seen as much ado about nothing.

Muth closed 19-1 in the Preakness futures pool hosted by Pimlico in March. The second of two Preakness future wagers will begin April 26 and close at 6 p.m. EDT on Kentucky Derby day, May 4.

How Did We Get To This Muth Lawsuit?

In 2021, Medina Spirit won the Kentucky Derby before being disqualified by post-race drug testing. Medina Spirit’s disqualification was accompanied by a two-year suspension for Baffert. One of the most decorated trainers in the sport then followed with ridiculous cancel culture claims.

That suspension was originally scheduled to end after the 2023 Kentucky Derby. In 2023, Churchill Downs extended the suspension through 2024 after about a year’s worth of lawsuits by Baffert to try and overturn the DQ and suspension.

Amr Zedan, who owned Medina Spirit and now owns Arkansas Derby winner Muth, has been a long-time collaborator of Baffert.

Despite not being a party to this lawsuit, Bob Baffert looms over the Kentucky Derby yet again. Just under three years after Medina Spirit crossed the line first but later disqualified for a failed drug test, a Baffert-trained horse is once again in the crosshairs.

Latest Kentucky Derby News