Legendary thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert has filed a federal lawsuit in San Diego, accusing two New Jersey men, Justin Wunderler and Daniel DiCorcia, of attempting to extort and defame him. The allegations stem from doping accusations that have surrounded Baffert since his horse, Medina Spirit, won the 2021 Kentucky Derby but subsequently failed a post-race drug test and was disqualified. Churchill Downs, the track where the Kentucky Derby is held, has suspended Baffert through at least 2024, although he continues to race horses at other tracks, including Del Mar.
In the lawsuit, Baffert claims that Wunderler and DiCorcia operate anonymous social media accounts and have engaged in a pattern of unlawful and threatening behavior directed at him and his family. The suit alleges that the two men have baselessly accused Baffert of criminal conduct, urged others to engage in violent behavior towards him and his family, and attempted to extort money under threats to his business, reputation, and occupational license.
According to the lawsuit, Wunderler allegedly posted on social media that there was a video that would end Baffert, and later sent a text message demanding money in exchange for not releasing damaging information. Screenshots included in the lawsuit also show Wunderler posting in May that he would leave Baffert alone in exchange for $1 million.
Wunderler and Baffert have been involved in previous lawsuits related to lost betting revenue caused by the 2021 Kentucky Derby drug scandal. Several bettors, including Wunderler, filed federal lawsuits in California and New Jersey accusing Baffert and his racing stable of RICO violations.
Bob Baffert, 70, is a well-known figure in horse racing, having trained horses that have won 17 Triple Crown races, including American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018. However, the doping allegations surrounding Medina Spirit have cast a shadow over his career. Baffert has previously sued Churchill Downs, claiming irreparable harm to his business and reputation.
The lawsuit against Wunderler and DiCorcia is ongoing, while the New Jersey lawsuit related to lost betting revenue is still pending.