Judge questions treatment of suspended horse trainer Baffert

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In this May 1, 2021, record photo, jockey John Velazquez, beforehand left, stands with Jill Baffert arsenic they ticker arsenic Jill's husband, trainer Bob Baffert, beforehand right, holds up the winner's trophy aft their triumph with Medina Spirit successful the 147th moving of the Kentucky Derby astatine Churchill Downs successful Louisville, Ky. A 3-year-old colt co-owned by Jill Baffert ran nether the sanction of different Hall of Fame trainer connected Saturday, July 10, 2021, erstwhile it finished 4th successful the $1 cardinal Belmont Derby Invitational astatine Belmont Park, wherever Bob Baffert has been suspended and is suing to regain access.

By Larry NeumeisterThe Associated Press

Mon., July 12, 20213 min. read

Article was updated 4 hrs agone

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York justice was sympathetic Monday to equine trainer Bob Baffert’s claims that his May suspension by the New York Racing Association — aft Kentucky Derby victor Medina Spirit failed a postrace cause trial — was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon astatine a Brooklyn proceeding repeatedly pressed a lawyer for the racing relation to explicate why the suspension was issued earlier Baffert was fixed a accidental to support himself.

Henry Greenberg, arguing connected behalf of the racing association, said Baffert volition get a proceeding aft the relation announces the magnitude of his suspension by Aug. 11.

“Isn’t that a small excessively late?“ the justice asked, noting that the duration volition beryllium announced months aft helium was suspended. “The occupation I have, counsel, is that helium was suspended and it’s up successful the air.”

She said the racing relation attacked his credibility arsenic it issued the suspension, but ne'er gave him the accidental to talk connected his ain behalf astir what happened.

“How does that comply with owed process?” the justice asked.

At different point, Amon said: “You conscionable sent him a missive saying, ‘You’re out,’ with nary owed process whatsoever.”

Greenberg repeatedly said the NYRA, which operates Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga Race Course, took the enactment to support the integrity of the sport.

He said the relation had to enactment accelerated due to the fact that the Belmont Stakes, the 3rd prong of horse racing's Triple Crown, was accelerated approaching successful aboriginal June.

The lawyer noted that the Kentucky Derby trial was the 5th time successful the past twelvemonth that a equine trained by Baffert tested affirmative for drugs.

“Rarely successful the past of the athletics has determination been specified a confluence of cause positives involving truthful salient a trainer,” relation lawyers wrote successful tribunal papers.

In Baffert's suit past period seeking to get the suspension lifted, the Hall of Famer contended helium was suspended without “any anterior notice” and was not told the duration oregon presumption of the suspension oregon immoderate New York authorities instrumentality oregon regularisation helium mightiness person violated.

After proceeding arguments from some sides, Amon did not instantly rule.

Arguing connected Baffert’s behalf, lawyer W. Craig Robertson III said it was unfair of the racing relation to suspend his lawsuit without the completion of an probe into the circumstances surrounding what helium called the “alleged test” connected Medina Spirit.

Robertson said it was imaginable that traces of betamethasone were recovered successful the horse’s strategy arsenic a effect of an ointment applied to the horse to dainty a tegument rash 3 weeks earlier the race. The unregulated ointment, helium said, contained betamethasone.

Churchill Downs suspended Baffert for 2 years aft an further cause trial of Medina Spirit confirmed betamethasone successful the horse’s system. Baffert cannot participate immoderate horses successful the Kentucky Derby oregon different races astatine the storied Louisville track done the outpouring of 2023.

Robertson contended that the New York suspension would beryllium the “death knell” to Baffert’s grooming concern due to the fact that New York’s Saratoga Race Course, which reopens Thursday, is simply a pivotal halt for a young equine destined for greatness.



He said a apical equine workplace successful Kentucky had already taken 2 prize horses from Baffert’s attraction and different shaper of elite horses was considering uncovering different trainer if Baffert cannot participate horses successful New York races.

Outside court, Baffert and his lawyers declined remark aft the hearing.

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