By Sue Finley
Amr Zedan, who sat down with Nick Luck on the world feed of the Saudi Cup Day races Saturday, offered a passionate defense of his trainer and friend Bob Baffert, pledging to take their Kentucky Derby title defense of Medina Spirit (Protonico) all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court if necessary, using his substantial means to do so.
“Myself, my means, my resources are at Bob Baffert's disposal,” Zedan told Luck. “We are going to see this 'til the end, and if it takes going to the Supreme Court, I will throw every single bit of me into this. That man is a good, decent family man and I will not stand for any more insults, any more criminal allegation to a man that has been nothing but great to this sport that we all love.”
“This sport is barely hanging on by a thread,” he continued. “The last thing we need is personal biases, jealousy to kick in. All we're asking for is an opportunity to present our case objectively.”
Eight days after Medina Spirit's win in the GI Kentucky Derby, Baffert told a gathering of media outside his Churchill Downs barn that he had tested positive for the presence of betamethasone in the race, and said he hadn't injected the colt with the substance. Two days later, he revealed that the horse had been treated with the ointment Otomax, which contains betamethasone, for a skin rash.
But Zedan told Luck he didn't understand–after they took a split sample of Medina Spirit's urine to the New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory Director George Maylin, to prove that the betamethasone in the colt's system came from the Otomax used for his skin rash–why the distinction between betamethasone valerate from the topical ointment and betamethasone acetate, which was absent from the sample, wasn't considered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) stewards, who disqualified Medina Spirit on Monday, Feb. 21, suspending Baffert for 90 days.
“Why did we go to Dr. George Maylin?” said Zedan. “To prove distinction. Why wasn't that distinction considered in the hearing? Was it just a waste of everyone's time? If you're really so adamant about avoiding the facts, why did you waste everyone's time and prolong the agony and suffering for all these months if you knew you weren't even going to consider what you were supposed to consider? That's a question mark. But, I firmly believe again, there are calm minds, there's a lot of wisdom that will come together.”
If, however, the final judgment is that he should be disqualified–which Zedan said he does not believe will happen–he said he was ready to accept it.
“If, at the end of the day for whatever reason, Medina will be disqualified, fine, if that's what the Supreme Court or whoever the highest court authority rules. But we all need to come together for this sport that we all love. I'm very objective, and I have clearly said that at the end of the day, if we get disqualified by the proper objective panel, whichever that may be, I will take it on the chin and I will be a big boy about it. But I think once this case is in the public domain and we've had an impartial objective judge within the court system, there is no doubt in my mind that we will win this.”
Zedan was equally passionate in his support for his friend, prompting Luck to ask him if he was able to be objective about the subject because of their friendship.
“I trust in the integrity of the whole process and I choose to stand by the greatest trainer the sport has ever witnessed. It's not my emotional friendship with Bob. I read all sorts of articles. I know the man, and I know the man's emotions. When Medina passed away, it was like one of his kids passed away. The man loves horses. He will never endanger his horses.
“Bob Baffert has been great to me,” Zedan continued. “He has been nothing but great to the sport and he does not deserve all this misinformation. He does not deserve to be compared to people whose names I don't even want to mention, because it's not even proper. This guy loves his job and he's been great at what he does, and nothing but great to everybody around him. Do you know how many people in his barn (for whom) he has saved loved ones and lives? There are stories that you guys don't even know. He doesn't talk about it. I know. I am his friend, and it hurts me so much to see a good man's reputation tarnished as such.”