Daniel Tran

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

churchill downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.

Thomas boosts bid to become oldest Giro d’Italia winner, Almeida wins tough Stage 16

giro d'italia

MONTE BONDONE, Italy — Geraint Thomas boosted his bid to become the Giro d’Italia’s oldest winner by moving back into the leader’s pink jersey, as the race exploded into life at the start of a dramatic and decisive final week in the Dolomites.

João Almeida won the tough Stage 16 atop Monte Bondone for his first victory in a Grand Tour. The Portuguese cyclist crossed the summit finish just ahead of Thomas, who also picked up valuable bonus seconds.

Primož Roglič was third 25 seconds further behind.

The result saw Thomas move back into the lead, 18 seconds ahead of Almeida and 29 in front of Roglič.

“Yeah it would have been nice to win the stage, but it was one of them where I had to keep riding, didn’t want to play cat and mouse with João with Roglič behind,” said Thomas, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers.

“So we worked well together … and unfortunately he had the jump on me and won the sprint. But it’s nice to be back in pink and to gain some time.”

Thomas turns 37 three days before the race ends in Rome. The oldest Giro winner is Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

It’s the beginning of a brutal final week. It was one of three of the last six stages that have been given the maximum difficulty rating of five stars.

There were more than 5,000 meters of elevation and five categorized climbs along the 126-mile route from Sabbio Chiese, including the top-category climb to the finish.

And it was on that climb to Monte Bondone that the race sparked into life.

Almeida attacked with less than seven kilometers remaining and Thomas made his move shortly after, bridging across to set up the battle for the stage win.

Almeida has worn the maglia rosa before but never won a stage in the three previous times he has competed in the Giro. The UAE Team Emirates cyclist also raced in the Spanish Vuelta last year.

“I’m super happy, it’s a dream come true, after four years I was always so close and so far at the same time,” Almeida said. “Finally I got it so yeah I’m super, super happy, I don’t have words to describe it.

“It was a super hard day, always up and down, for the legs it was super hard, I would say the hardest so far,” he continued. “I was feeling good and I took the risk to go for it. If you don’t try you never know. I tried and I achieved it.”

Stage 17 offers a brief respite as the 121-mile route from Pergine Valsugana to Caorle starts with a gradual descent before a long, flat finish which is likely to end in a bunch sprint.

Veteran sprint specialist Mark Cavendish will be hoping for a 19th Giro victory after announcing that he will retire at the end of the season.

Martina Navratilova says she’s doing ‘OK’ after being diagnosed with cancer

Martina Navratilova
Susan Mullane/USA TODAY Sports

ROME — Martina Navratilova is doing “OK” after being diagnosed with throat cancer and breast cancer.

“I’ve gone through a very difficult year but now I’m OK,” the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame said at the Italian Open after receiving the “Racchetta d’Oro” (Golden Racket) award for her contributions to the sport.

The 66-year-old Navratilova said in January that her prognosis was good and that she was going to start treatment that month. She said then that she noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck while attending the season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, in November, and a biopsy showed early stage throat cancer.

While Navratilova was undergoing tests on her throat, she said, the unrelated, early stage breast cancer was discovered.

Navratilova returned to her work as a TV analyst at Tennis Channel in March, when in an interview with TalkTV’s Piers Morgan, she said she was told by doctors that, “as far as they know, I’m cancer-free,” and she should be “good to go” after some additional radiation treatment.

Navratilova made her acceptance speech in Italian to the Campo Centrale crowd.

“Tennis gave me a surprising life for which I am very grateful,” she said. “I always tried to give something back when I played, and also in retirement.”

Navratilova was a four-time runner-up in singles at the Foro Italico and a three-time champion in doubles – with her last Rome title coming in 2003 with partner Svetlana Kuznetsova at the age of 46.

She won 59 Grand Slam titles overall, including 31 in women’s doubles and 10 in mixed doubles. The last was a mixed doubles championship with Bob Bryan at the 2006 U.S. Open, a month shy of her 50th birthday.

Navratilova originally retired in 1994, after a record 167 singles titles and 331 weeks at No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She returned to the tour to play doubles in 2000 and occasionally competed in singles, too.