April 12, 2024

Legendary thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert, whose horses have won 17 Triple Crown races, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in San Diego accusing two New Jersey males of hoping to extort and defame him.

The accusations revolve close to doping allegations that have hung around Baffert, whose horse Medina Spirit gained the 2021 Kentucky Derby but failed a publish-race drug take a look at and was afterwards disqualified. Churchill Downs, the monitor the place the Kentucky Derby is raced, has suspended him by way of at minimum 2024, though Baffert continues racing horses at other tracks, which include Del Mar.

Baffert, 70, alleges in the lawsuit that the two guys “have urged other people to interact in violent habits towards Baffert and his loved ones, baselessly accused Baffert of criminal perform, and tried to extort Baffert and his family members beneath threats to his business, name, and occupational license.”

The go well with alleges that New Jersey people Justin Wunderler and Daniel DiCorcia each operate anonymous social media accounts and “have engaged in an escalating sample of illegal and threatening habits directed exclusively at Baffert and his loved ones. This escalating sample of outrageous behavior is specifically supposed to accrue extra followers and personal monetary obtain.”

DiCorcia could not be attained for remark Wednesday night. In direct messages on X, the web site previously known as Twitter, Wunderler told the Union-Tribune on Wednesday: “Never questioned for cash from Bob Baffert I want to do whats ideal for horse racing.” In yet another message he wrote: “Bob Baffert has ongoing to get rid of horses.”

Wunderler is a single of the plaintiffs in a pair of federal lawsuits versus Baffert in California and New Jersey above shed betting income triggered by the 2021 Kentucky Derby drug scandal.

Baffert’s lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses Wunderler and DiCorcia of a plot to extort Baffert that performed out previously this month on social media and by way of a text concept, at a time when Baffert’s horses had been racing at Del Mar.

John Velazquez atop Medina Spirit competes during the 146th Preakness Stakes

John Velazquez atop Medina Spirit competes throughout the 146th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Training course, May well 15, 2021, in Baltimore.

(Julio Cortez / Involved Press)

Wunderler allegedly posted on X on Sept. 6: “There is a online video out there that will close Baffert.”

The go well with alleges that Wunderler despatched a textual content message to Baffert’s wife by a third bash the subsequent day. The textual content demanded income “in trade for a guarantee not to release data Defendants allege is so harming that it will end Baffert’s vocation,” in accordance to the lawsuit.

A screenshot of the alleged extortion textual content reads in element: “My law firm now has video clips. He like to reach out to Baffert Attorneys. He is going to contain in message/email two clips of the video clip. Payment for clips to be sent to my paypal … Its 1K for those people 2 clips. My attorney will thrn (sic) go via with his attorney. If payment is sent, clips movies will be sent by tomorrow.”

In accordance to a screenshot provided in the lawsuit, Wunderler also posted on X in May perhaps that he would leave Baffert on your own in exchange for $1 million.

After the Union-Tribune contacted Wunderler on Wednesday, he posted a screenshot of a part of the messages among he and the reporter to his followers, writing: “Going will need a law firm.” “Lets get Baffert less than oath then.” “Going have my legal professionals look into all lacking horses. Im ready Baffert.”

Wunderler and Baffert have been events in the exact lawsuit just before in excess of betting earnings and the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Following Medina Spirit’s suspension, a number of bettors, like Wunderler, filed federal lawsuits in California and New Jersey accusing Baffert and his racing stable of RICO violations, alleging “Baffert’s various and recurring acts of doping and moving into horses into thoroughbred races” was affecting gambling outcomes.

The match alleges that Wunderler’s betting tickets price around $2,000, and he would have received at minimum $40,000 “but for the illegal, drug-induced earn by Medina Spirit.” The New Jersey lawsuit is nevertheless ongoing.

Arguably the most effective-recognised horse trainer in the U.S., Baffert has been a common at Del Mar for decades. An Arizona native whose most important home is now in the Los Angeles region, Baffert is most effective identified for coaching American Pharoah, who in 2015 turned the to start with horse in 37 several years to acquire the Triple Crown — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Baffert-educated Justify also won the Triple Crown in 2018. In total, Baffert-educated horses have received 6 Kentucky Derbies, eight Preakness Stakes and a few Belmont Stakes. And this summer months at Del Mar, Baffert-experienced Arabian Knight received the $1 million Pacific Classic — the largest race of the track’s summer time season. Baffert has gained a record seven Pacific Classics at Del Mar considering that 1991.

But in 2021, Medina Spirit failed a drug exam following his Kentucky Derby earn. Churchill Downs suspended Baffert, to begin with for two yrs, however it has considering that prolonged the suspension. Baffert sued the monitor, testifying afterwards that Churchill Downs brought on irreparable damage to both of those his business enterprise and name.

Bob Baffert, left, leaves federal court in the Brooklyn

Bob Baffert, remaining, leaves federal court docket in the Brooklyn borough of New York exactly where he is embroiled in lawsuits on July 12, 2021.

(Affiliated Press)

Observe officials introduced very last year that they ended up extending his suspension through at least 2024, saying that Baffert was peddling “false narratives” about the drug for which the horse examined good. Betamethasone is lawful in Kentucky, but banned on race day.

“A coach who is unwilling to settle for accountability for many drug test failures in our highest-profile races can not be trustworthy to avoid long term misconduct,” Churchill Downs officials reported in a assertion.

According to Baffert’s match submitted Wednesday, Wunderler and DiCorcia “spearheaded a conspiracy theory alleging that Baffert was scratching his horses simply because of an adverse response the horses had been obtaining to ‘blood doping’ with erythropoietin or ‘EPO.’”

The fit describes blood doping as a “criminal felony offense that would disqualify Baffert” from education horses in any jurisdiction. The match contends that Baffert does not have interaction in the apply, and that community investigations “have continuously pointed out that there is no evidence that Baffert engages in blood doping.”

On Sept. 10, the remaining working day of the Del Mar season, Baffert’s horses completed to start with and 2nd in the Del Mar Futurity. The 1-2 complete earned Baffert’s owners $240,000 of the $300,000 purse.

A 2009 inductee into the Nationwide Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Baffert has accrued additional than 3,260 wins and earnings of a lot more than $338 million.

Sporting activities editor Ryan Finley contributed to this report.