Baffert’s attorney clashes with leading vet in appeal hearing

Frankfurt, Ky.

In the most controversial testimony of the week, one of the race’s most prominent vets on Thursday walked back a powerful barrage of questions from an attorney for trainer Bob Baffert, who is trying to clear his name and ‘obtain Spirit of Medina
restored as 2021 winner kentucky derby.

Dr. Mary Scollay, head of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, held her ground on issues ranging from the debate over the proper use of the drug that has suspended Medina Spirit to her lack of experience as a hands-on veterinarian in racing stables. racetracks. .

Called as a witness for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, Scollay set the table when she told attorney Luke Morgan that the skin ointment Baffert’s team gave to Medina Spirit the year last was not intended for horses.

“Otomax is FDA approved for use in dogs to treat ear infections,” Scollay said. “I would hesitate to describe Medina Spirit as a dog. It would be very unfair.

Baffert’s legal team said Otomax was applied to Medina Spirit twice a day in the three weeks leading up to the 2021 Derby. Baffert’s case was built in part on the belief that the betamethasone in this ointment was a type that should be allowed under Kentucky regulations, as opposed to the injected form which is illegal.

Scollay went on to say that there was no written record provided by Baffert’s veterinarian, Dr. Vince Baker, as to why Medina Spirit received a total of 1 1/2 tubes of Otomax or how often.

“There’s no evidence here that the horse had an ear infection to justify using this,” she said. “The Veterinary Practice Act requires you to keep records.”

During cross-examination, Baffert’s attorney, Clark Brewster, stepped in with both feet.

“Dr. Baker not only documented the day he did anything to Medina Spirit or any other horse,” Brewster said, “he also documented it by uploading it to The Jockey Club. transparent. Have you looked at the Jockey Club data?”

“I don’t have access to it,” Scollay said.

“If you want to critique his records,” Brewster said, “that might be something you might want to access and watch.”

“I understand he was asked to provide all the medical records he had,” Scollay said, “and that’s all he had.”

“This”, according to Scollay, was a record that indicated the number of Otomax applications but not the quantity of dosages or the reason.

Then Scollay doubled.

“I know the Jockey Club system well,” she said. “It doesn’t match the medical records. It is comparable to confidential where processing is recorded. Specific diagnostic procedures may be reported, but the results of these diagnostics are not recorded.

In various ways, Brewster repeated the gist of Baffert’s appeal which has been heard by a hearing officer since Monday afternoon – and in other court and KHRC hearings. That Kentucky’s drug regulations are “vague and ambiguous.”

In testimony Thursday morning, a New York lab that tested Medina Spirit’s post-Derby samples had its credibility questioned by a University of Kentucky equine veterinary science professor.

The analysis at issue was a court-ordered test carried out last summer by Dr. George Maylin’s Equine Drug Research and Testing Laboratory in New York. It was last fall when Maylin concluded that the drug found in Medina Spirit’s system was betamethasone valerate, an active ingredient in Otomax that Baffert’s team maintained was legal.

“Dr. Maylin’s conclusion indicates that the data definitely shows topical administration of betamethasone,” said Dr. Scott Stanley. “I don’t believe the data definitively concludes that.”

Stanley’s criticism of Maylin’s tests was debated by lawyers even before he testified on Thursday.

“To go further down the path of (the KHRC) by simply trying to question and criticize Dr Maylin’s report, … that’s out of place and it’s just a total waste of time,” Craig said. Robertson, another of Baffert’s lawyers.

KHRC lead counsel Jennifer Wolsing begged to disagree, saying “there is” a dispute over whether Medina Spirit was injected or given ointment. As Baffert’s team said the foal received daily doses of Otomax, Wolsing wondered why there was no sign of betamethasone in the foal when tested on April 18, 2021.

“We have evidence that there was another route of administration, specifically an injection,” Wolsing said. “We searched the barn and no Otomax was found.”

Besides saying that Wolsing had no proof of this, Robertson and Brewster asked why the KHRC was suddenly interested in how betamethasone turned up in Medina Spirit’s tests. The commission has been steadfast in building its case that the drug was in the foal’s system, not how it got there.

“We’re wasting time, your time, everyone’s time, going through additional experts questioning what Dr. Maylin found when he was accepted by them,” Brewster said.

This was the case when Baffert and the KHRC agreed to ask Maylin to retest the Medina Spirit samples after Baffert obtained a court order in June 2021 for this to happen.

Baffert’s team argued that the KHRC had yet to prove its belief that Medina Spirit may have been injected with betamethasone.

“They say, ‘There could have been another route of administration. There could have been a violation. It seems odd to us,” Robertson said, paraphrasing the KHRC position. “That’s not proof.”

After Stanley and before Scollay, the KHRC sought expert testimony from Dr. Benjamin Moeller, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis, who detailed the test last spring of Medina Spirit’s split blood sample in his laboratory.

Details of Medina Spirit’s first-ever split-sample test were conspicuously absent from testimony this week. But that was discussed behind closed doors.

Before Thursday’s testimony began, a person familiar with the 3.5-hour private session that took place on Wednesday afternoon said horse racing nation it was closed to the public and the media so that lawyers could examine the concerns of industrial laboratories. Executives at the Colorado factory that conducted the first review of the Medina Spirit test sample in May 2021 were concerned that any evidence they could provide could reveal proprietary procedures to their competitors.

Amid what was mostly dry, scientific evidence studded with lawyers’ textbooks, there was a laughable moment at the end of a Thursday afternoon break.

Wolsing asked Brewster if he would accept the recording of a deposition in the next few days. Recalling that Baffert had a phone call with KHRC Chief Steward Barbara Borden secretly taped last spring, Brewster replied, “Of course. You are good at it.

Baffert, who testified on the first day, and his wife Jill attended every session of the hearing this week at a state office building in the capital. When asked if he would be back when testimony resumes on Monday, Baffert replied, “I don’t know. I’ll have to talk to my lawyers. Brewster, Robertson and Joe DeAngelis reserved the right to recall Baffert to the stand.

Frankfurt-based lawyer Clay Patrick, whose family is involved in the horse industry, is presiding over the hearing. It will ultimately render a decision which will be a non-binding recommendation, which the 14 members of the KHRC can accept, revise or reject.

Baffert is appealing a decision by KHRC stewards in February that disqualified the late Medina Spirit from winning the Derby and handed Baffert a 90-day suspension and a $7,500 fine. Baffert served the suspension that was recognized nationwide, returning to work on July 3.