Trainer Bob Baffert could be facing a two-year ban from the New York Racing Association following multiple medical violations.
That was the recommendation made by hearing officer O. Peter Sherwood on Wednesday.
A three-member panel will decide whether to accept, reject or modify Sherwood’s recommendation. Prior to that, Baffert and the NYRA will have seven days to offer a rebuttal.
NYRA seeks suspension of Bob Baffert … again
A two-year suspension could keep Baffert out of the Belmont Stakes through 2024. The 2022 Belmont Stakes takes place on June 11.
“NYRA has reasonably concluded that it will not condone Baffert’s reckless practices, outrageous behavior and substance violations, each of which compromises the integrity of the sport. I conclude that NYRA has reasonably determined that he should be excluded from the racetracks for a lengthy period.”
Baffert had previously been banned from any NYS horse racing activity through at least July 2, as his 90-day suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was recently upheld in court.
The NYRA suspended Baffert in May 2021 after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone. But Baffert sued the NYRA to have the suspension lifted a month later. And a New York federal judge nullified the suspension in mid-July. The judge ruled that NYRA had acted unconstitutionally by failing to let Baffert adequately respond to their claims.
In its allegations against Baffert, NYRA also noted that he had four horses test positive for drug-related violations in the year leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Could this be the end of the legendary horse trainer?
Baffert is one of two trainers to win the Triple Crown twice and the only trainer to win a Triple Crown since 1978. Baffert has three Belmont wins under his belt as well.
Baffert’s attorney Craig Robertson said Thursday:
“If he’s forced to serve his suspension now he’s never going to get those days back if he wins on appeal. We’re talking 90 days that would take place over the entirety of the Triple Crown” of horse racing, which includes the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes run in May and June.”
Robertson said the suspension would ban Baffert from racing anywhere and force him to dismantle his business.
Robertson contended that the New York suspension would be the “death knell” to Baffert’s training business because New York’s Saratoga Race Course, which reopens Thursday, is a pivotal stop for a young horse destined for greatness.
Live horse racing returns to Belmont Park starting Thursday.
Sen. Joe Addabbo is looking to get fixed-odds horse racing on all NY online sports betting apps before the end of the legislative session on June 2.
Related >> Baffert Eligible For 2023 Belmont Stakes Despite 1-Year NYRA Suspension