Reports: Judge Could Rule on Zedan Derby Lawsuit by End of Week

Amr Zedan's lawsuit could get decided by the end of the week | Coady

The lawsuit filed by Amr Zedan's incorporated racing stable to try and get Bob Baffert-trained horses un-barred from the GI Kentucky Derby could get decided by the end of this week according to several published news reports in the wake of a Monday hearing in Kentucky's Jefferson Circuit Court.

Ron Flatter of Horse Racing Nation reported that the judge in Zedan's lawsuit against Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI) was “prepared to rule” on Zedan's motion for an injunction and/or on CDI's motion to dismiss the case entirely, but wanted to wait until the Kentucky attorney general weighed in on the constitutionality of a law that CDI is citing that is designed to prevent the filing of allegedly frivolous lawsuits.

Jason Frakes of the Louisville Courier Journal reported that John Quinn, an attorney representing Zedan, argued Apr. 15 that the decision to extend Baffert's previous two-year suspension was based on the “subjective opinion” of CDI's chief executive, Bill Carstanjen.

Matt Hegarty of Daily Racing Form wrote that judge Mitchell Perry “spent much of Monday's hearing drilling attorneys for Zedan on why the owner waited to file his request for a temporary injunction until April when it was known that Baffert had been banned through the 2024 Derby in July of the previous year.” Perry told Zedan's legal team that much of the relief they were seeking could have been issued at any point in the last 10 months after stating that the late hour of their request was putting 'an incredible time crunch on everyone involved, including this court.'”

Hegarty also quoted a lawyer for CDI, Thomas Dupree, as stating to the judge that Zedan was well aware his horses would not earn Derby qualifying points if they were under Baffert's care.

“He knew back in July of last year that if he kept Mr. Baffert as his trainer then his horses would not be eligible,” Hegarty's DRF story quoted Dupree. “Each time, he decided to stick with Mr. Baffert, knowing the consequences of his decision, and he now regrets that decision.”

After the Zedan-owned and Baffert-trained Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone in the 2021 Derby, Baffert was banned from CDI's properties for two years. A federal judge in February 2023 denied Baffert a preliminary injunction that the Hall-of-Fame trainer had sought to be eligible to race in the Derby. Last July CDI extended the ban at least through 2024. Baffert is not a party to this latest lawsuit.

Zedan owns the GI Arkansas Derby winner Muth (Good Magic), who would be among the Derby favorites if allowed to race.

It is unclear if a ruling in favor of Zedan would allow other Baffert trainees owned by different entities to also participate in the Derby, or if any lifting of the ban would also permit Baffert's trainees to enter the GI Kentucky Oaks.

After the hearing, a spokesperson for Zedan issued the following statement to TDN: “We appreciate the attention the Judge has paid to this case and we share the court's interest in definitively resolving these issues for the 150th Derby and beyond. We look forward to his rulings on our case.”

TDN also requested comment from CDI, but a spokesperson for the corporation did not respond prior to deadline for this story.

Next up is an Apr. 17 hearing.

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