NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Wednesday nullified the suspension of Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert, The Associated Press reported.
Brooklyn Judge Carol Bagley Anom ruled that the New York Racing Association acted unconstitutionally by failing to allow Baffert to respond to claims made against him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test.
Amon said a prompt post-suspension hearing, where Baffert could refute the claims, was necessary. She said the NYRA “had held no hearing -- let alone a prompt one.”
The judge decided that Baffert had established a likelihood that he will prove that the NYRA’s suspension violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the AP reported.
Baffert was suspended in May by the NYRA, ESPN reported. In June, Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert for two years after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a steroid in two separate post-race drug tests.
Attorney Henry Greenberg, arguing for the NYRA, said Monday that Baffert would receive a hearing after the association announces the length of his suspension by Aug. 11, according to the AP.
Greenberg told Amon that the NYRA, which operates Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga Race Course, suspended Baffert on May 17 to protect the integrity of the sport, the AP reported.
“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in May. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
Medina Spirit, trained by Baffert, tested positive for the regulated corticosteroid betamethasone after the colt’s Kentucky Derby win at Churchill Downs on May 1, the Daily Racing Form reported. Baffert is prohibited from being in the Derby through at least 2024, the website reported.
“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
Baffert trained Triple Crown winners American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018.
Medina Spirit had given Baffert his record seventh Kentucky Derby win.
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