Court Allows Ruis to Pursue Justify Matter

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Ruis & Bolt d'Oro | Christie DeBernardis

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According to the attorneys representing Mick Ruis, a Los Angeles County Superior Court has ruled that the owner can continue his attempts to have the results of the 2018 GI Santa Anita Derby overturned. In January, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) voted to abide by the stewards' decision to let the result stand, with Justify (Scat Daddy) declared the official winner.

The decision by Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff was in response to the CHRB's attempts to have the case halted based on a legal term known as a demurrer, which is an argument that there's no factual or legal basis for a case to go forward. With the ruling, Ruis's suit against the CHRB will now proceed. A trial date has tentatively been scheduled for August.

Ruis is the co-owner and also trained Santa Anita Derby runner-up Bolt d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro). After it was revealed in a report in the New York Times that the Bob Baffert-trained Justify tested positive for the substance scopolamine, Ruis began his quest to have the result of the race overturned with Bolt d'Oro declared the winner.

Ruis alleges that the CHRB failed to follow its own rules when it decided not to pursue penalties after Justify tested positive for scopolamine. The CHRB acted on recommendations from then executive director Rick Baedeker and equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur. It was their call that Justify should not be disqualified because the positive test was the result of contamination linked to jimson weed.

At stake is the $600,000 winner's share of the purse. Second-place was worth $200,000.

“We just want simply for the Horse Racing Board to follow its own rules,” said Darrell Vienna, who, along with Carlo Fisco, is representing Ruis. “Their rules are unequivocal. They state that when a horse carries in its system a prohibited substance of the classification that scopolamine was classified at at the time of the race, they will be disqualified. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

Vienna said he is holding out hope that the CHRB will reverse directions.

“Potentially, this decision might open the CHRB's eyes and have them do the right thing rather than being forced to do so,” he said.

Friday, Vienna and Fisco issued a joint statement, which read: “We have a long way to go but are pleased that the court confirmed our client's undeniable claim in pursuing this case. Today was a technical hurdle introduced by the CHRB in attempt to escape its responsibility for the Justify debacle. We remain confident that the trial on this matter will expose the legal improprieties of the former CHRB Board and its former Equine Medical Director as well as the utter refusal by the CHRB Board of Stewards to correct an obvious injustice.”

According to the attorneys representing Mick Ruis, a Los Angeles County Superior Court has ruled that the owner can continue his attempts to have the results of the 2018 GI Santa Anita Derby overturned. In January, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) voted to abide by the stewards' decision to let the result stand, with Justify (Scat Daddy) declared the official winner.

The decision by Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff was in response to the CHRB's attempts to have the case halted based on a legal term known as a demurrer, which is an argument that there's no factual or legal basis for a case to go forward. With the ruling, Ruis's suit against the CHRB will now proceed. A trial date has tentatively been scheduled for August.

Ruis is the co-owner and also trained Santa Anita Derby runner-up Bolt d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro). After it was revealed in a report in the New York Times that the Bob Baffert-trained Justify tested positive for the substance scopolamine, Ruis began his quest to have the result of the race overturned with Bolt d'Oro declared the winner.

Ruis alleges that the CHRB failed to follow its own rules when it decided not to pursue penalties after Justify tested positive for scopolamine. The CHRB acted on recommendations from then executive director Rick Baedeker and equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur. It was their call that Justify should not be disqualified because the positive test was the result of contamination linked to jimson weed.

At stake is the $600,000 winner's share of the purse. Second-place was worth $200,000.

“We just want simply for the Horse Racing Board to follow its own rules,” said Darrell Vienna, who, along with Carlo Fisco, is representing Ruis. “Their rules are unequivocal. They state that when a horse carries in its system a prohibited substance of the classification that scopolamine was classified at at the time of the race, they will be disqualified. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

Vienna said he is holding out hope that the CHRB will reverse directions.

“Potentially, this decision might open the CHRB's eyes and have them do the right thing rather than being forced to do so,” he said.

Friday, Vienna and Fisco issued a joint statement, which read: “We have a long way to go but are pleased that the court confirmed our client's undeniable claim in pursuing this case. Today was a technical hurdle introduced by the CHRB in attempt to escape its responsibility for the Justify debacle. We remain confident that the trial on this matter will expose the legal improprieties of the former CHRB Board and its former Equine Medical Director as well as the utter refusal by the CHRB Board of Stewards to correct an obvious injustice.”

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