Following a lawsuit filed by Bob Baffert against NYRA Judge Carol Bagley Amon, of the Eastern District of New York, determined on July 14 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. Here are some pertinent excerpts from her ruling;
“…As uncontested data show, NYRA has permitted numerous trainers to race at NYRA this season who have medication violation histories comparable or more serious than Baffert’s,” the ruling read. These data belie NYRA’s claim that integrity or safety demand the exclusion of someone with a violation record like Baffert’s.”
“Numerous rules and regulations already safeguard the interests NYRA argues for here, and enjoining this suspension of Baffert will not prevent the continued enforcement of those rules. The hardships that Baffert would suffer absent an injunction weigh heavily on the other side of the scale. The suspension is indefinite, and NYRA concedes at most that Baffert’s claims might be decided within the year. But the 2021 Saratoga meet is a one-time opportunity.”
“…I am sensitive to NYRA’s concerns about Baffert’s involvement in the events surrounding Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby performance, and the fear that history might repeat itself in New York. But for the reasons stated, the actual and substantial harm that Baffert will suffer absent an injunction outweighs the speculative harms that NYRA raises.”
The complete ruling can be read here:
In response to Judge Amon’s ruling in favor of Bob Baffert NYRA President and CEO David O’ Rourke issued the following statement;
“On May 17, 2021, at a time of crisis for the sport, the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) took emergency action to temporarily suspend Bob Baffert from racing or training at Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack and Saratoga Race Course. This measure was taken to protect the integrity of thoroughbred racing. NYRA will continue to honor that commitment so that fans, the betting public and racing participants can be confident in a level playing field.
“NYRA is reviewing the court’s decision today to determine our legal options and next steps. What is clear, however, is that Mr. Baffert’s actions and behavior can either elevate or damage the sport. We expect Mr. Baffert to exert appropriate controls over his operation.
“Importantly, the court upheld NYRA’s authority to exclude individuals from its racetracks whose conduct is contrary to the best interests of thoroughbred racing. The court also rejected Baffert’s argument that NYRA had no legal authority to take the action that it did.”