Kentucky Derby

Zedan Racing files appeal of ruling keeping Bob Baffert-trained Muth out of Kentucky Derby

Zedan Racing files appeal of ruling keeping Bob Baffert-trained Muth out of Kentucky Derby

A day after a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge denied its request for a temporary restraining order against Churchill Downs, Amr Zedan Racing Stables on Friday filed an appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Zedan is the owner of Arkansas Derby winner Muth and is hopeful of getting the horse eligible for the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

On April 3, Zedan filed a lawsuit against Churchill Downs, seeking a temporary injunction that would allow horses trained by Bob Baffert to enter the Kentucky Derby. Judge Mitch Perry denied that request Thursday after three hearings over the past two weeks.

Baffert was not a party to the lawsuit.

“The Jefferson Circuit Court expressed concern with purported unfairness that other horses will not be able to race if Muth qualifies,” Zedan’s appeal states. “But such harm is a phantom — there is no evidence that any competitor will suffer. Absent the unlawful ban, Muth would be waltzing into the Derby as the winner of the Arkansas Derby and no one would think twice about that.”

Because Baffert is suspended at Churchill Downs through the end of this year, his horses are not allowed to accumulate qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby. Muth’s victory in the Arkansas Derby would have been worth 100 points, assuring a spot in the Run for the Roses if not for Baffert’s suspension.

Zedan also owned Medina Spirit, the horse at the center of Baffert’s suspension. Medina Spirit crossed the finish line first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified after failing a post-race drug test.

Following Medina Spirit’s post-race drug positive, Churchill Downs immediately suspended Baffert and declared runner-up Mandaloun the winner of the 2021 Derby. Baffert initially was suspended two years, but Churchill Downs announced in July of 2023 the suspension would be continued through 2024.

The extension of the lawsuit was the center of Zedan’s lawsuit. Zedan claimed he bought horses in 2022 — including Muth — with the idea they could run in the 2024 Kentucky Derby because Baffert’s original suspension would be over by then.

“Finally, it bears noting that the ‘eleventh hour’ nature of Zedan’s request … is a function of when Muth qualified for the Derby, not any gamesmanship by Zedan,” the appeal states. “Prior to Muth winning the Arkansas Derby, Zedan went to great lengths trying to resolve this dispute with (Churchill Downs Incorporated) only for CDI to refuse each time even to engage. Zedan did not want to unnecessarily burden the courts with this dispute until it became clear Zedan had no other options.”

Churchill Downs released the following statement following Thursday’s ruling by Perry:

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision today and believe Mr. Zedan may suffer from a case of ‘Derby Fever,’ which is known to spread with exposure to horses and is contagious this time of year. Symptoms can contribute to questionable judgement and in extreme cases can result in litigious behavior. There is no known cure.

“Nevertheless, we have communicated clearly about the rules of entry, which are the same for everyone and are non-negotiable. Contenders cannot sue their way into the Kentucky Derby. We wish Mr. Zedan well in the future and appreciate both his passion for the sport and his desire to see his horses compete on the First Saturday in May.”

Baffert, 71, has won the Kentucky Derby six times, tied with Ben Jones for the most by any trainer.

Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; jfrakes@courier-journal.com. Follow on X @KentuckyDerbyCJ.

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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Bob Baffert’s Muth out of Kentucky Derby after ruling; Zedan appeals

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