A hearing over whether Bob Baffert will be suspended by the New York Racing Association will begin on Jan. 24, the trainer’s attorney Craig Robertson confirmed to Horse Racing Nation on Monday. The news was first reported by the Daily Racing Form.
Robertson said he had no further statement to make about the process at time of publishing. A spokesperson for NYRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Attorneys for both Baffert and NYRA met Monday to discuss what date the hearing would begin. According to the DRF story, NYRA officials said the January date will give both sides time to prepare their cases.
The fact that a hearing is happening at all has been the subject of debate in court.
NYRA indefinitely suspended the trainer shortly after it was announced that Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone following his win in the Kentucky Derby. Baffert and company sued NYRA over the decision, and won an injunction stopping the suspension after a federal judge ruled he had not received due process.
NYRA announced it had formulated a process in September that would allow it to suspend Baffert following the January hearing, which will be overseen by retired New York State supreme court judge O. Peter Sherwood. Following the announcement, which was coupled with Baffert receiving a notice of charges from NYRA, the parties were back in court, with Robertson arguing that the organization was in contempt for scheduling a hearing for the same charges as the previous suspension.
Robertson’s argument was thrown out by a federal judge, who said NYRA was within its rights to conduct the hearing.
The notice of charges from NYRA alleges that Baffert committed conduct detrimental to racing, the health and safety of horses and jockeys, and NYRA business operations.
According to NYRA’s published procedures for the new hearing process, the organization will bear the burden of proof during the hearing. Following the hearing, Sherwood will create a report, which will then be reviewed by a panel, which will have 10 days to come to a final decision.
Following the positive test for betamethasone, Baffert was suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. Medina Spirit’s split-sample urine has been sent to a laboratory in New York for further testing, in an attempt to prove the positive drug test was the result of a skin cream, as opposed to an injection.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has not made any decision as to whether Medina Spirit will be taken down as Kentucky Derby winner.
Robertson said Monday that he had no update on the status of the urine testing.