NYRA hearing for embattled trainer Bob Baffert looming

NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert will have to face a disciplinary hearing with the New York Racing Association to address a suspension after a federal judge denied Baffert’s motion to hold the racing organization in contempt.

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 and later banned from being implemented.

A pre-hearing scheduling conference is slated for Monday.

“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 prevented the suspension from taking effect, ruling in July 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.”

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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