Horse racing trainer Bob Baffert is suing the New York Racing Association (NYRA) for suspending him, saying they did so without any due process or proof of wrongdoing.
The NYRA suspended Baffert, insisting that since his horse, Medina Spirit, is under suspicion of doping in the Kentucky Derby, he is a risk to the integrity of the state’s racing community.
“In order to maintain a successful thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public, and racing participants,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement on May 17. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
This week, though, Baffert announced that he is seeking a judge to overturn the suspension on the grounds that he has not been proven to have committed any wrongdoing with his horse, Medina Spirit, and he is not accused of doing anything wrong in New York, the Courier-Journal reported.
“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 filing states, “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.”
Baffert’s suit continues, noting, “NYRA controls the operation of all major Thoroughbred race tracks within the State of New York and operates as an effective monopoly. NYRA does not have the legal authority to suspend Baffert-that rests solely with the Gaming Commission as the entity that issued his occupational license-a license that affords Baffert a property interest under state law sufficient to invoke due process protections.”
“Despite this fact, by purporting to summarily and indefinitely suspend Baffert from all NYRA tracks, NYRA has essentially barred Baffert from exercising his professional and State-issued trainer’s license anywhere in the State of New York,” the filing adds.
Baffert maintains that since the Kentucky investigation into Medina Spirit could go on for years before he is proven of doing anything illegal, it is not right for the New York authority to prevent him from his business without any proof he has ever done anything wrong.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.