(Churchill Downs Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

(The “jockey” helps recognize the first “Honored Guest” at The Louisville Thoroughbred Society before the first running of the LTS Stakes at Churchill Downs)

Editor’s Note:

Every so often, we will be addressing a few things: comments, decisions, people, whomever who, and whatever that – for one reason or another – should be tossed into the literary “muck pit.”

It is in the spirit of cleanliness, recycling, and protecting the environment that we offer this service of “addressing the muck” – free of charge.

After all, someone has to do it, right? Might as well be us.

And, it didn’t take long for us to find a few pounds of, well, manure. Again.

Seems as if you hang around the embattled Bob Baffert, you are sure to find a heaping pile.

On Monday?

We found another pile. Or two. Or three.

Here is a look at our “20-Something Edition.”

Editor’s Opinion:

On Sunday — when the entire sporting world was turning its’ collective attention and focus to the College Football Championship — the bizarre world of Bob Baffert and its’ merry band of pricy lawyers and tone-deaf public relations minions must have thought it was a good idea to go public and grab those significant Page 2, under-the-fold headlines that are normally reserved for the boxscores of meaningless NBA games.

Specifically, Baffert and/or someone in this stellar group of advisors thought it was a really good idea to turn their attention and latest round of verbal threats to and on Churchill Downs.

If you haven’t heard, and you have been more interested in the best college football has to offer (along with nearly all other Americans), well you missed the latest chapter in this story that seemingly will never, and mercifully end.

But here you go. A quick review.

First of all…

Seems as if babbling Bob and his mental heavyweights thought it was the perfect time to “leak” a draft legal complaint that will request some court to issue an injunction and will force Churchill Downs to lift its’ two-year ban on little Bobby. That prohibition was issued by Churchill Downs after the 2021 Kentucky Derby so-called winner, Medina Spirit, apparently failed a post-Derby drug test. If the post-race test results hold true — and all blood and urine samples currently reviewed to date seem to indicate they the tests are accurate — this will enable the “Hall of Shame” Trainer to become the very first person in the history of the legendary track and the historic races to have a horse test positive after competing in both the Kentucky Oaks (2020 with Gamine), and, now the Kentucky Derby.


Seems as if baffling Bob and his expert advisors thought now was the perfect time to request the court to allow the banned trainer access to both Churchill Downs’ grounds and Turfway Park’s facilities; to allow the alleged trainer the ability to enter his horses at the famed Louisville racetrack; and to allow the publicly-embarrassed horse whisperer and his horses — somehow still under his tutelage — to earn points towards this year’s 148th running of the Kentucky Derby.


Seems as if befuddling Bob and his troupe thought this was the best day to conjure up some reasons why a judge and court should consider Bob’s arguments of how his rights to due process have been violated by the ban, and how Bob has been and continues to be harmed by any prohibition to both Churchill Downs and the world’s greatest horserace.

And, fourth…

As things turn out, it seems as if this latest piece of legal prose mysteriously and ultimately ended up in the hands of journalist Joe Drape, a writer for “The New York Times,” who subsequently included some of the information in a story about the on-going, sad story of Medina Spirit, who recently died following a morning training exercise routine ordered by Baffert at Santa Anita Park. (Currently, a necropsy has been ordered to ascertain exactly what caused the colt’s horrific and untimely death.)

I doubt that anyone in Indianapolis for the Georgia-Alabama football masterpiece either much cared, or took much notice of the latest Baffert media plan.

But it didn’t take long for Bill Carstanjen, the Chief Executive Officer of Churchill Downs, to catch wind; to pay heed; and for Churchill Downs to issue several statements about the possible pending litigation threats.

In short?

Mr. Carstanjen issued no threats, in return. Just a few promises.

Mr. Carstanjen — one of the best, most polite, most professional, and most honorable people I have ever met in any walk of life — didn’t blink.

Mr. Carstanjen — one of the most intelligent, most intuitive, most effective leaders I have ever had the opportunity to know — didn’t twitch.

Mr. Carstanjen — one of the bravest, most courageous, and most dedicated people to the institution that he currently advises and directs and one of the strongest advocates for the brand of both Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby — didn’t waver. Not in word. Not in promise of deed.

He said, in a release issued by Churchill Downs’ Senior Director of Communications Darren Rogers, and later printed in both “The New York Times” and on Twitter Monday night:

“This threatened lawsuit is yet another tactic from Mr. Baffert’s well-worn playbook of obfuscating the facts, inventing excuses to explain positive drug tests and attempting to blame others to avoid responsibility for his own actions,” Carstanjen said.

He said…

“We are considering any and all legal options available to us to set the record straight and ensure Mr. Baffert is held accountable for all the reputational damage he has caused us,” Carstanjen said. “The irony is not lost on us that despite all of his violations, he is the one threatening to file lawsuits claiming to be aggrieved.”

Bravo, Mr. Carstanjen. While the Thoroughbred world is still waiting for the likes of The Jockey Club, or the Breeders’ Cup, or the Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders’ Association, or the National Thoroughbred Association to stand up and make a statement condemning yet another example of alleged drug misconduct by Baffert? Truly, how many accusations and positive test results does it take before the “industry leaders” adhere to all those standards that they continually preach about?

You delivered.

Bravo, Mr. Carstanjen. While the editorial writers at “Thoroughbred Daily News” publicly apologizes to its’ readers for even covering the story of Medina Spirit’s ultimate demise and the natural questions that have arisen from it; has still not found the journalistic spine to opine on the current debacle at hand, other than to suggest that Baffert and his horses should be allowed entry into the Breeders’ Cup; but has found plenty of white space available to print a pro-Baffert op-ed slant by a long-time associate?

You delivered.

Bravo, Mr. Carstanjen. While others seemingly are content to wallow in some pool of pity with a person that consistently has his name, barn and his horses questionably fall short of the rules of engagement in jurisdictions all over this land, and, apparently, simply smirks and shrugs at the standards of permissive conduct that govern his profession?

You delivered.

Racing fans may not agree with every decision that Churchill Downs makes. I don’t agree with every decision my family makes.

Racing enthusiasts may want to cast dispersions on the choices that the company and its’ leadership team choose. Sometimes I wonder what we are doing here in my own household, too.

Some may want to find fault with the logic, and sometimes question how this mammoth company and its’ decision-makers ultimately decide to proceed in this industry and sport.

But make no mistake.

This Churchill Downs stands ready to protect and enhance its’ brand.

This Churchill Downs stands tall and committed to produce the world’s largest and greatest Thoroughbred event above any reproach; beyond any question about the event’s integrity.

This Churchill Downs stands firm in its’ promise to forever defend this ground; this moment in time; this history; this future.

Make absolute no mistake. This Churchill Downs does not lack courage. This leader of Churchill Downs has no shortage of guts to do what is right, and just.

Make no mistake. While others in this industry have been faced with these same questions and allegations of possible wrong-doing and positive test results? And, while others have weakened and acquiesced in other places?

Make no mistake. This Churchill Downs is big enough to fight for what is right. And, is willing to do so.

More importantly?

This Churchill Downs is strong enough to win this fight for what is right. Because? It is right.

After all?

No matter what, if Medina Spirit’s blood and urine tests confirm that the horse participated in the Kentucky Derby with an excessive level of medication that is not permitted?

Then, the horse and all of his connections cheated.

No matter what or how the medication was delivered, if Medina Spirit’s blood and urine tests confirm that the level of the medication was higher than permitted levels?

Then, the horse and all of his connections cheated.

I may not agree that .08 is the correct level to determine if I — or anyone else — is legally impaired and incapable of driving a vehicle. But it’s the law. Period. If I test over the limit, I am going to jail and I stand the very real likelihood of losing my license privileges.

I may not agree that is fair. I may cry. I may wail. I may gnash of teeth.

But that is the law. Period.

If Medina Spirit’s drug test is confirmed? Then the win must be disqualified. Punishment must be levied against the trainer. This trainer should lose his license — for some period of time that may, ultimately, discourage him from doing it again.

This is not a trivial matter.

This is the Kentucky Derby. The greatest race in the history of this sport.

This is the Kentucky Derby. The greatest name in the history of our Commonwealth.

This is the Kentucky Derby. An event that means billions to the trademark of Churchill Downs, a publicly-traded institution whose reputation for doing business carries international recognition and acclaim.

This is the Kentucky Derby. An event that means the heart and soul to those of us who were born here, on this sacred soil, and carry a piece of this tradition proudly on our sleeves and in her hearts.

This is the Kentucky Derby that Bob Baffert — who apparently either intentionally or by some lack of professional oversight and conduct — soiled.

You can talk about “due process,” all you want barrister. But tell me, what other sport in the world does not have the capability to suspend a participant who is alleged to have conducted an illegal or improper act that may cast negatively on the business while that very matter may be litigated or decided?

Why don’t you ask Major League Baseball what it routinely does when confronting issues such as these, and what it did last year with former Cy Young winning pitcher Trevor Bauer.

You can talk all you want about “transparency,” all you want public defenders.

But tell me, why doesn’t Baffert simply make all of his veterinarian records — dating back to the first day that Medina Spirit arrived in his barn and care — available to a forensic scientist for research, review and comment? It should reveal the dates, times and locations for the dispensing of the medications in question. Shouldn’t it? Was there reckless regard for the rules and potential violation of the medication limits?

You can deflect the debate and storylines as many times as you want and throw the “What about…” questions regarding this trainer or that horse all over the place and hope that one piece of that muck sticks to the wall of justice.

But tell me, counselors, what does that have to do with this trainer; with this positive test result; with this question; with this matter. It does not exonerate Bob Baffert if another horse tested positive the same day or the same week. It simply does not.

So, Baffert and his team can make all the threats that they wish.

So, Baffert and his team can file all the lawsuits that they want.

So, Baffert and his team can allege that his “rights” have been violated and he deserves “better.” But what about the bettors who wagered hundreds of millions on the horses in the field, with the idea that each participating horse was competing under the same rules and guidelines? Under the same drug limits? What about the owners of the other horses in the contest in question? What about their “rights?”

So, be it.

But, perhaps for the first time ever, Baffert and this team may have finally found the one entity that ain’t afraid to fight for what is right.

Perhaps, for the first time, Bully Bob and his tribe of supporters may have just found the one that will not back down for what is just, and is willing to throw a punch right back.

Perhaps, for the first time, Baffert may have just walked into the ring for an old-fashioned butt whipping he has asked for, and, perhaps, deserved for quite some time.

Let the games begin.

And, good luck, Bobby.

You are going to need it.