Baffert NYRA suspension case to move to hearing

Sports

NEW YORK — Embattled thoroughbred horse trainer Bob Baffert will have to face an administrative hearing scheduled for Monday by the New York Racing Association to address his suspension.

Brooklyn Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the Eastern District of New York ruled Tuesday that a hearing was required for Baffert to challenge NYRA’s suspension, which was issued in mid-May without a hearing three weeks before the Belmont Stakes.

“We are gratified by the court’s decision,” Patrick McKenna, senior director of communications for NYRA, said in a statement Wednesday. “NYRA’s focus in this matter is protecting the integrity of the sport of thoroughbred racing in accordance with the requirements of due process.”

Judge Amon had nullified the suspension in July, ruling that NYRA had acted unconstitutionally by failing to let Baffert adequately respond to claims made against him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who is trained by Baffert, failed a postrace drug test at Churchill Downs.

NYRA informed Baffert on May 17 that it was suspending his privileges at its three racetracks in the wake of the uproar over the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs has suspended Baffert for the next two runnings of the Kentucky Derby.

In her written ruling in July, Judge Amon said a prompt post-suspension hearing where Baffert could refute the claims was required to meet constitutional muster.

But she said the racing association “had held no hearing — let alone a prompt one.” The hearing is now scheduled for Monday.

Since the July ruling, Baffert has been allowed to enter horses at NYRA racetracks and sent a few stakes runners off at the 40-day Saratoga meet that ended on Labor Day.

NYRA operates Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga Race Course.

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