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Bob Baffert is fighting back.
On Monday, the Hall of Fame trainer sued the New York Racing Association for suspending him from entering horses and occupying stall space at Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct. The NYRA announced the ban back on May 17.
“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,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke at the time. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of thoroughbred racing.”
Baffert is looking for a judge to overturn his ban, stating that the NYRA has not allowed him the right to due process, and suspending him before the investigation into Medina Spirit's positive drug test was complete is unconstitutional. Baffert also claims the ban from New York racetracks is premature as he has never had a horse test positive in the state.
“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 “Gaming Commission”); 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,” the suit states.
"NYRA is a not-for-profit franchised corporation created by the State of New York. However, unlike other state created not-for-profit corporations, the existence and operation of NYRA is specifically governed by the New York law that grants it the exclusive franchise to conduct live thoroughbred racing and simulcasting at the state-owned racetracks on behalf of the state, from which the state derives substantial revenue.
“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. Additionally, NYRA has purported to suspend Baffert and the use of his license without any notice or opportunity to be heard in violation of due process. Lastly, by connecting Baffert's “suspension” to the Kentucky investigation, which is likely to go on for years, NYRA has correspondingly banned Baffert from participating in New York racing for several years.”
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Bob Baffert sues over New York Racing Association's ban