Bob Baffert files lawsuit claiming extortion over allegedly 'damaging' videos

Bob Baffert, the Hall of Fame horse trainer, is suing two bettors for defamation and attempted extortion in a lawsuit that revolves in part around videos that allegedly would damage his career.

Justin Wunderler, one of the two New Jersey men being sued by Baffert, told USA TODAY Sports that three videos allegedly show Baffert in a "damaging" light. Wunderler, 43, offered no details and said he likely will be hand over the tapes to PETA this weekend.

Attorney Shepard Kopp, who is representing Baffert, noted the lawsuit demanded the production video. “It will be produced in discovery and once we obtain it the video will be released, as Bob has nothing to hide," Kopp wrote in an email.

Kathy Guillermo, a Senior Vice President at PETA who said she has been in contact with Wunderler, said, “If there is a video, it should be released now."

Baffert’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego, asserts that, “Based upon information and belief, the alleged videos are deceptively edited to cast Baffert and his staff in a false light with the specific intent of manufacturing a scandal, whereas the full context and character of the video would affirmatively refute such characterization."

Bob Baffert in 2021.
Bob Baffert in 2021.

Accusations behind video

Baffert is seeking in excess of $75,000 from Wunderler and the second man being sued, Daniel DiCorcia. DiCorcia, 42, did not respond to requests for comment.

In early September, Wunderler began making claims he had videos about Baffert’s care and treatment of horses that would be damaging to the famed trainer.

According to the lawsuit, Wunderler asked his social media followers to bring dangerous objects to the Belmont Stakes to hurl at Baffert and his family; spearheaded a conspiracy that Baffert was scratching his horses from races because of an adverse reaction the horses were having to “blood doping” with erythropoietin or “EPO;” and both men posted a demand for money on social media.

Defendant's denials

“We’re not asking for money," Wunderler said. “The plan is always to release the videos and stuff. I think they know the video is damaging and stuff."

Wunderler said he and his attorney are in possession of the videos but he declined to provide his attorney’s name.

Wunderler, an aggrieved party in a federal lawsuit against Baffert, has claimed gambling losses stemming from Baffert's entry of Medina Spirit in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified after testing positive for medication banned on race day.

That has led to an ongoing suspension for Baffert at Churchill Downs, where he has won the Kentucky Derby six times, sharing the record with the late Ben Jones.

Unlikely allies

Wunderler acknowledged his unlikely alliance with PETA, which has not pushed for the ban of the sport but does not support it.

“I’m not an animal activist," Wunderler said. “I gamble on horses. I used to own horses. I love the game. I love horse racing. I just don’t love (Baffert)."

Said PETA’s Guillermo of Wunderler, “I happen to agree with him that Bob Baffert should be out of horse racing, should have been kicked out long ago."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bob Baffert files lawsuit claiming extortion over alleged videos