Horse Racing

Court fights NYRA’s attempt to block hearing against Baffert

The last attempt by coach Bob Baffert’s legal team to stave off an impending administrative hearing that could get him banned from races run by the New York Racing Association has been denied. 21 in a federal lawsuit filed by the coach last year.

The order, issued by Judge Carol Bagley Amon in New York’s Eastern District Court, dismissed the entire amended complaint on behalf of Baffert against the NYRA last fall, paving the way for May 24. 1 is the start date of an administrative hearing on allegations against the Hall of Fame coach brought by the NYRA. The hearing can last for several days.

On January 19, O. Peter Sherwood, a former New York Supreme Court Justice recruited to serve as a hearing officer in the state’s administrative operations, denied Baffert’s request that he resign. not adjudicate the case. He also rejected the proposal to dismiss the case altogether and asked for the hearing to begin as scheduled. Amon’s ruling on Friday should lead to the same outcome.

In May 2021, the NYRA issued a “temporary suspension” to the coach after it was revealed that the Kentucky Derby winner presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) Medina Spirit then tested positive for betamethasone, a banned substance on race day in Kentucky. However, Baffert was not given a hearing or prior notice by the NYRA of this action. Baffert filed a lawsuit and Amon issued an interim order in July banning the suspension, arguing it meant state action against Baffert was not supported by legal proceedings.

Kentucky managers have yet to hold a hearing regarding the Derby.

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In September, the NYRA countered by serving Baffert with an “incriminating statement” alleging conduct prejudicial to racing’s best interests, conduct detrimental to the health and safety of motorsport. safety of horses and jockeys, and conduct that is detrimental to the business of the NYRA. The charges come with warnings that the NYRA will seek to remove Baffert from lines operated by the NYRA. Baffert has been informed that a series of proceedings have been passed to qualify him for a hearing where the NYRA will seek to prove the charges and where Baffert can confront his accusers. .

Then came Baffert’s revised complaint in federal court. Among other things, it asks the court to order the NYRA to continue the administrative hearing.

In Friday’s ruling, Amon converted the preliminary order she had previously issued as a “temporary suspension” in May 2021 to a permanent one and ruled that this resolved all issues. remaining due to Baffert’s original complaint. At the same time, she argued that the federal court system did not have the power to interfere with the hearing scheduled to begin Monday and dismissed the amended complaint.

The NYRA released a statement welcoming the ruling, in which vice president of communications Pat McKenna wrote that the NYRA was “very pleased with Judge Amon’s decision to dismiss Mr. Baffert’s case in its entirety. Like us. said throughout this process, that the NYRA’s focus in this matter is on protecting the integrity of Thoroughbred motorsport in New York.To that end, the NYRA administrative hearing will begin. Monday morning input.”

Baffert attorney W. Craig Robertson III said Baffert is ready to return to federal court if needed.

“The primary purpose of the federal court’s action was to obtain an injunction barring the NYRA from suspending Mr. Baffert without due process. We were successful in that regard and Judge Amon issued an order. like that – which she issued in perpetuity,” Robertson wrote in an email. “In connection with our complaints regarding the NYRA’s new efforts to suspend Mr. Baffert, Judge Amon instructed us that we need to go through that process to see if the NYRA is doing the right thing. due process referrals that the NYRA is obligated to provide.While we doubt the NYRA will follow through with the request for its previous conduct, we will undergo the hearing as directed by the NYRA. judge.

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