Baffert Files New York Lawsuit Claiming NYRA Has No Legal Authority For Suspension - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Baffert Files New York Lawsuit Claiming NYRA Has No Legal Authority For Suspension

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert

Bob Baffert has filed a lawsuit against the New York Racing Association in United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, reports the Thoroughbred Daily News, seeking to overturn NYRA's May 17 decision to not accept his entries or allow him stall space.

Patrick McKenna, NYRA's Senior Director of Communications, issued the following statement Monday: “On May 17, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) temporarily suspended Bob Baffert from entering horses in races and occupying stall space at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack. NYRA took this action to protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants following Mr. Baffert's public acknowledgement that the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned corticosteroid.

“In making the determination to temporarily suspend Mr. Baffert, NYRA took into account the fact that other horses trained by Mr. Baffert have failed drug tests in the recent past, resulting in the assessment of penalties against him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California, and Arkansas.

“NYRA will vigorously defend the action it has taken in this matter.”

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Craig Robertson, argues that NYRA does not have the legal authority to suspend Baffert. It alleges that while NYRA is a non-profit corporation, it “is specifically governed by the New York law that grants it the exclusive franchise to conduct live Thoroughbred racing and simulcasting at the state-owned racetracks on behalf of the state, from which the state derives substantial revenue.”

As such, the suit contends, the only entity with the authority to suspend Baffert is the New York State Gaming Commission. That, in turn, would mean that Baffert is protected from violations of his right to due process, which the suit alleges would include suspending the trainer prior to the completion of the Medina Spirit investigation by the Kentucky State Horse Racing Commission.

The suit reads: “Specifically, Baffert maintains a right to rely upon and use his New York State occupational trainer's license that was duly issued to him without limitation by the New York State Gaming Commission (the “Gaming Commission”); NYRA has, without legal authority, and without any notice or opportunity to be heard, attempted to indefinitely suspend Baffert's trainer's license issued by the Gaming Commission, thereby preventing Baffert from practicing in his chosen profession or using his state-issued license on state-owned property.”

Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.

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