Bob Baffert sues New York racing officials over suspension

Bob Baffert sues New York racing officials over suspension
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Bob Baffert on Monday sued the New York Racing Association over his suspension from entering horses in races in the state. The NYRA suspended the Hall of Fame trainer after his horse, Medina Spirit, failed a post-race drug test after winning the Kentucky Derby.

Baffert argues in the lawsuit that the NYRA had no authority to suspend his license and said that only the gaming commission could do so, CBS affiliate WLKY-TV reports. Baffert also claims that his 14th Amendment rights were violated because he was not given a hearing before the suspension was handed down, according to WLKY.

"NYRA's impulsive decision to deprive Baffert of his professional livelihood within the State of New York is one that it had no legal authority to make," the lawsuit said, according to Reuters. Baffert also claimed that the suspension will "effectively put me out of business in the State of New York," Reuters reports.

Following the Kentucky Derby, a drug test found Medina Spirit had twice the legal limit allowed by Kentucky racing of the steroid betamethasone. Baffert was subsequently suspended by both the NYRA and Churchill Downs while a second test of Medina Spirit was pending. The horse also failed that second test, although Churchill Downs has not yet announced if Medina Spirit would be stripped of his Derby win.

Bob Baffert seen in Louisville. / Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP
Bob Baffert seen in Louisville. / Credit: Charlie Riedel / AP

Baffert's suspension prevented him from entering horses to compete in the 2021 Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown. Baffert was able to race several horses, including Medina Spirit, at the Preakness Stakes, but only after they had passed several rounds of pre-race drug testing. Medina Spirit failed to win the Preakness Stakes, and Mandaloun, the horse that came in second at the Kentucky Derby and would be declared the winner if Baffert's horse's win is vacated, did not run in the second race, ending the possibility of a Triple Crown winner in 2021 before a decision about the Derby was made.

Baffert has also sued the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, claiming that the drug test didn't violate Kentucky racing rules, WLKY reports. Baffert's attorneys argue that the commission's rules do not say the application of betamethasone via topical ointment is illegal and claimed that the steroid is not a performance-enhancing drug, WLKY reports.

Baffert has claimed that betamethasone got into Medina Spirit's system because it was an ingredient in an ointment that was being applied to the horse daily prior to the Kentucky Derby.

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