Posted on: December 6, 2023, 06:43h.
Last updated on: December 6, 2023, 06:43h.
Racehorse trainer Bob Baffert has filed a motion for a default judgment in his extortion and defamation lawsuit against two New Jersey gamblers.
The federal suit alleges that Justin Wunderler and Daniel DiCorcia have falsely claimed on social media they have damning video footage that would, in their words, “end Baffert” if it were released to the public.
The two men have thousands of followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, under the @SwiftHitter (Wunderler) and @barshoelife (DiCorcia) accounts.
Six-time Kentucky Derby winner Baffert also claims the pair have threatened, extorted, and defamed him, while engaging “in an escalating pattern of unlawful and threatening behavior directed specifically at Baffert and his family,” via social media and text messaging.
Wunderler and DiCorcia’s allegations stem from the 2021 Kentucky Derby doping scandal. Baffert’s Medina Spirit failed a drug test after winning the race, and the trainer was suspended from racing at Churchill Downs.
Baffert denies doping. He says Medina Spirit was being treated with a topical ointment for a rash that caused betamethasone, a substance banned in Kentucky and other states, to show up in the test.
Six months later, the controversy deepened when Medina Spirit died of a heart attack. Since 2000, at least 74 other horses from Baffert’s stable have died, a fact that has consistently been amplified by the defendants on social media.
Baffert’s default judgment motion describes repeated, unsuccessful efforts to personally serve a summons and copy of the complaint on Wunderler, Blood Horse reports. These papers were ultimately served to his mother, according to court filings. Wunderler has not filed any papers in the case nor retained an attorney, the motion states.
Wunderler is a plaintiff in a seoerate federal civil lawsuit against Baffert that claims the drug scandal caused him to lose gambling revenue.
The Baffert lawsuit states that the plaintiff has not viewed the allegedly incriminating video. Nevertheless, Baffert’s lawyers claim the footage has been “deceptively edited to cast [their client] and his staff in a false light with the specific intent of manufacturing a scandal.”
The lawsuit also claims that Wunderler attempted to blackmail Baffert, requesting money in return for releasing the clips to his lawyers. Wunderler has denied this allegation.
In the lead up to this year’s Belmont Stakes in New York, Wunderler urged his followers on X to bring dangerous objects to the race throw at Baffert and his family, according to the suit. Wunderler later posted an image of Baffert’s house and claimed he “slaughters horses on national TV.”