By T. D. Thornton
Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., the owner of GI Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (Protonico), has been voluntary dismissed from a class-action federal lawsuit initiated by a group of horseplayers who want to collect damages from a purported years-long pattern of racketeering activity related to the alleged “doping” of Thoroughbreds by trainer Bob Baffert.
Zedan Racing's founder is Amr Zedan. The dismissal “without prejudice” was filed by the plaintiffs June 23.
Baffert, plus his incorporated racing stable, now remain as the only defendants in the suit, which was filed May 13 in United States District Court (Central District of California). Baffert has not yet responded in court to the complaint.
The suit, led by Michael Beychok, the winner of the 2012 National Horseplayers Championship, was filed four days after Baffert's disclosure that Medina Spirit had tested positive for betamethasone after winning the Derby.
Baffert's revelation was later confirmed by split-sample testing at two different labs approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, but no ruling has yet been issued over those findings.
The betamethasone finding in the Derby was the fifth positive test in a Baffert trainee for a regulated but prohibited race-day drug within the past year (two others were for lidocaine, one was for dextrorphan, and another also for betamethasone). It was the third during that time frame to occur in a Grade I stakes.
Simultaneously, Baffert has been embroiled in a long and complicated court and racing commission battle in California over whether to disqualify 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify from that year's GI Santa Anita Derby because of a scopolamine finding.
Back in 2013, after a cluster of seven sudden horse deaths in Baffert's Hollywood Park barn, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) issued a report that stated that although “the blanket prescribing of thyroxine to all horses in Baffert's barn does appear unusual” the fatalities remained “unexplained [and] there is no evidence whatsoever CHRB rules or regulations have been violated or any illicit activity played a part.”