NYRA's Pre-Suspension Hearing Against Bob Baffert To Begin Monday; Judge Dismisses Trainer's Lawsuit - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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NYRA’s Pre-Suspension Hearing Against Bob Baffert To Begin Monday; Judge Dismisses Trainer’s Lawsuit

Bob Baffert

Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York officially dismissed a lawsuit brought by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Friday, reports the Daily Racing Form, allowing the New York Racing Association's pre-suspension hearing to begin as scheduled on Monday, Jan. 24.

Amon's ruling indicated that the pre-suspension hearing fulfills Baffert's right to due process.

“NYRA is gratified by Judge Amon's decision to dismiss Mr. Baffert's suit in its entirety,” Patrick McKenna, a spokesman for NYRA, told DRF. “As we have said throughout this process, NYRA's focus in this matter is protecting the integrity of the sport of Thoroughbred racing in New York.”

Amon's ruling also states that Baffert will be able to pursue a separate judicial review of a suspension after the hearing is completed.

“Whether NYRA is a biased agency and whether suspension is a 'fait accompli' will certainly be clearer after the hearing has run its course and NYRA has decided to suspend Baffert,” Amon wrote.

NYRA had 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.

Amon 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.

The upcoming hearing process, laid out by NYRA in its official statement on Sept. 10, is not expected to be brief. O. Peter Sherwood, the retired New York State Supreme Court justice, will serve as a NYRA-appointed hearing officer. The hearing may last several days, and Sherwood is not required to issue his post-hearing report with recommendations within a specific period of time.

Once that report has been issued, a panel will review it and issue a final decision within 10 days

Read more at the Daily Racing Form.

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