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Baffert Suit Alleges Extortion, Defamation, Threats

A lawsuit filed by trainer Bob Baffert alleges two persons are extorting him, threatening him and his family, and damaging his reputation with repeated negative social media posts and references to an alleged damning video.

Justin Wunderler and Daniel Dicorcia are named as defendants in Baffert’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego Sept. 27. They are known for making frequent posts on X, formerly Twitter, about their take on the state of horse racing and backstretch talk. Posts about this case began appearing shortly after it was filed.

Wunderler is an aggrieved party in another federal case against Baffert, alleging gambling losses due to Baffert’s entry of Medina Spirit in the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1). A search of PACER, a website that provides access to federal court records, does not turn up Dicorcia as a party to any other federal court cases.

Wunderler began claiming on X in early September that he possesses a video with disparaging content about Baffert’s care and treatment of horses, writing it will go public. He recently tweeted that his source in providing the video is a backstretch worker.

According to Baffert’s complaint, Wunderler, described as a “part-time pari-mutuel Thoroughbred racing bettor, previously tweeted May 23 on his @SwiftHitter account on X, “1 million Dollars. Ill (sic) leave Baffert/Keri all of them alone.” “Keri” is not identified in the complaint.  

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That post precedes Wunderler’s video claim by a little over three months. Baffert’s complaint implicitly acknowledges the existence of one or more such videos but says his words are taken out of context.

“Based on information and belief,” the complaint states, “the alleged videos are deceptively edited to cast Baffert and his staff in a false light with the specific intent of manufacturing a scandal ….” Baffert claims that “the full context and character of the video would affirmatively refute such characterization.”

Without pleading the basis for it in the body of the complaint, Baffert requested a court order “requiring Defendants to produce the video to the Court for the Court’s and Plaintiff’s review.”

The suit seeks damages of $75,000, the minimum amount that must be claimed for federal courts to have what is called “diversity jurisdiction” over a dispute involving parties from different states when the claims are not based on federal law. Otherwise, such matters must be litigated in state court.

Baffert’s choice of venue in Southern California could be challenged. According to the federal civil rules of procedure, most cases of this nature may be filed in the judicial district of the state where the defendants live or in a judicial district where a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred. Wunderler and Dicorcia live in New Jersey.

A request by BloodHorse for comment from Wunderler was not answered when this story was published. Wunderler posted on X after the suit was filed, “Also for record @barshoelife (Dicorcia)…had nothing to do with acquiring videos. He has no sources or information.” Before that, Wunderler called out Baffert’s treatment of horses and called on the California Horse Racing Board to hold him accountable.

Attorney Clark Brewster, who does not nominally represent Baffert in this dispute but has in several others, posted on X, “Bob Baffert took legal action today by filing a suit … for defamation and actions taken by the defendants to extort money and solicit physical assaults against Mr. Baffert, his wife, and minor son.”

The complaint does not state whether Baffert has sought criminal charges.

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