NYRA: New Procedures Are 'Exactly' What Baffert Asked For, Hearing Pushed To Oct. 11 - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

NYRA: New Procedures Are ‘Exactly’ What Baffert Asked For, Hearing Pushed To Oct. 11

Trainer Bob Baffert

Last week, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert's attorneys filed a letter with U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon requesting she hold the New York Racing Association in contempt for scheduling a hearing. NYRA fired back at Baffert in court on Wednesday, reports the Thoroughbred Daily News, arguing that the new hearing procedures are exactly what the trainer argued he was entitled to when filing his lawsuit.

NYRA notified Baffert ahead of the Belmont Stakes that it was suspending his ability to enter horses in races or have stall space at its racetracks due to his recent history of medication violations (five over a one-year period), the conflicting statements he provided to media around the Medina Spirit scandal, and Churchill Downs' suspension of the trainer.

Judge Amon of the Eastern District of New York determined that NYRA's suspension of Baffert should not have taken place without some sort of hearing allowing him to address the organization's accusations against him. Although NYRA was asserting its private property rights in the case, Amon said the organization is closely entwined enough with the state that its suspension of Baffert constituted a state action, thereby requiring due process.

NYRA issued a statement of charges against Baffert and fellow trainer Marcus Vitali on Sept. 10, and scheduled a hearing for Baffert to begin on Sept. 27. However, that hearing was delayed until Oct. 11 as Baffert's attorney requested additional time. The trainer will not be participating on that date, because the first hearing will be about scheduling future dates and deadlines.

The Sept. 29 filing by NYRA reads: “Plaintiff moves to hold NYRA in contempt for providing Plaintiff exactly what he argued he was entitled to in support of his motion for a preliminary injunction–notice and an opportunity to be heard.

“Plaintiff incorrectly asserts that the Notice of Hearing, Hearing Rules and Procedures, and Statement of Charges demonstrate that, 'NYRA's conduct is simply a repackaged version of the same action already enjoined. What the Hearing Rules and Procedures and Statement of Charges actually show is a substantially different process that is now in place, which was not afforded in connection with the May 17 suspension that the Court enjoined.”

“Plaintiff's speculation that NYRA created its Hearing Rules and Procedures to target him is incorrect,” the filing continued. “The Hearing Rules and Procedures are of general applicability and are designed to afford the process this Court deemed necessary in its Order.”

Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.

An archive of stories about Baffe

Additional stories about Baffert's Kentucky Derby positive and ensuing legal battles can be found here.

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