The New York Racing Association suspended coach Bob Baffert for a year on Thursday for repeated drug violations.
A panel has attributed Baffert’s time since an initial suspension that allowed the two-time Triple Crown coach to ride horses in New York on January 26th. The final decision marks the end of a long round trip to Baffert State in New York. the state that began in May 2021.
“This has been an impartial and deliberative process that has resulted in a long suspension of the sport’s most prominent coach,” NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement. “However, it’s not just about Bob Baffert or anyone, it’s about protecting the integrity of the sport here in New York. Today’s decision moves that goal forward.”
The ban is shorter than the two years Churchill Downs set aside Baffert after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. Retired New York State Supreme Court Justice O. Peter Sherwood, acting as NYRA’s hearing officer, previously recommended a two-year suspension.
Baffert’s camp called for the suspension of the NYRA’s suspension, which was immediately denied. A message seeking comments from Baffert or his lawyer was not immediately returned.
The panel’s decision cannot be appealed through the NYRA’s trial, which took place last year after Baffert successfully sued in federal court to lift his initial suspension in New York State. Baffert is also fighting in federal court against a Churchill Downs ban that made him ineligible for horse racing in the Derby in 2022 and ’23.
Under the terms of the suspension agreed by the panel formed by Saratoga attorney John J. Caruone, the executive director of the New York Association of Thoroughbred Knights Will Alempijevic, and the leader of the New York Racecourse Chaplaincy, the Rev. Humberto Chavez , Baffert could be part of the Belmont Stakes next year.
The panel in its 14-page ruling disagreed with Sherwood on the issue of Baffert “doping” his horses, saying: “Drugs for which Baffert’s use has been cited in three jurisdictions are permitted and commonly used but, however, they improve their performance in the sense that they can suppress injuries and allow the horse to function at a normal level despite the injury if it is at a level above the allowable threshold.
Medina Spirit tested positive for the corticosteroid betamethasone, which is not allowed in Kentucky on race day, and was subsequently disqualified. The foal finished third in the Preakness two weeks after the Derby.
Medina Spirit collapsed and died in December in California. An examination found no definitive cause of death.
Cruel Intention, Eclair, Charlatan, Gamine and Merneith, coached by Baffert, also tested positive for a substance not allowed at that level on race day. Those violations occurred in California, Arkansas, or Kentucky; none happened was in New York.
Baffert, 69, is a Hall of Fame coach who has become the face of the sport. He has won the Triple Crown twice: in 2015 with American Pharoah and in 2018 with Justify.
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NYRA suspends Baffert for 1 year; fit to return in January
Source link NYRA suspends Baffert for 1 year; fit to return in January