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Baffert Seeks Default Judgment in Defamation Suit

Defendant Wunderler is still threatening a video release.

Trainer Bob Baffert

Trainer Bob Baffert

Anne M. Eberhardt

Bob Baffert filed a motion for default judgment against Justin Wunderler in a lawsuit the trainer filed in a California federal court.

The suit alleges, among other things, that Wunderler and Daniel DiCorcia, both residents of New Jersey, falsely claimed they possess video that would end Baffert's career if publicly released. The defendants are also accused of extortion in connection with the alleged damning video.

Baffert's complaint, initially filed on Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, asks for $75,000 in compensatory damages, punitive damages, production of video to the court, and injunctive relief.

Baffert's default judgment motion was filed Dec. 4. Supporting documents describe repeated, unsuccessful efforts to personally serve a summons and copy of the complaint on Wunderler but allege papers were served on his mother at her New Jersey residence, where she said Wunderler resides.

Certified mail was also used to deliver the lawsuit, according to a declaration signed by attorney Clark Brewster, who was not listed as counsel for Baffert in his complaint. He joins attorney Shepard S. Kopp of Santa Monica, Calif., as co-counsel for Baffert.

Brewster represented Baffert in numerous administrative and legal proceedings after Medina Spirit was disqualified as the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs; and when the trainer was banned from entering horses at tracks owned or operated by Churchill Downs Inc. and the New York Racing Association. The trainer was forced to sit out the 2022-23 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, and Baffert-trained horses remain banned at CDI tracks beyond the 2024 Run for the Roses. The NYRA ban expired after one year.

Wunderler's co-defendant, DiCorcia, denied Baffert's allegations in a one-page answer to the complaint he filed Nov. 28. An attorney has not entered an appearance for DiCorcia. Wunderler has not filed any papers in the case, nor is there any sign in the court record he has retained an attorney.

Known as @swifthitter on X, Wunderler frequently posts on the website formerly known as Twitter. On Dec. 5, the day after Baffert's default judgment motion was filed, he again alluded to the primary subject of the litigation. He posted he "can release the videos tomorrow," mentioning he could give the footage to various groups, individuals, or media. He also proclaimed that he holds "the cards" in their dispute.

Wunderler is an aggrieved party in a separate federal case filed against Baffert, alleging gambling losses due to Baffert's entry of Medina Spirit in the 2021 Derby. A search of PACER, a website that provides access to federal court records, does not reveal DiCorcia as a party to any other federal court cases.

Citing a scheduling conflict, a scheduling conference in the legal dispute set for Jan. 10 was moved to Jan. 8 by a magistrate judge the same day Wunderler made the referenced post.