A New York federal judge on Wednesday nullified the suspension of horse trainer Bob Baffert, finding that the New York Racing Association acted unconstitutionally by failing to let him adequately respond to claims made against him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test.
Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the Eastern District of New York said the racing authority denied the trainer a prompt post-suspension hearing in which he could refute the claims was against him. Indeed, the racing association "had held no hearing -- let alone a prompt one,'' the judge ruled.
Amon noted that lawyers for the New York Racing Association had argued at a hearing Monday in Brooklyn that the public depends on it to ensure races are conducted in a fair and honest manner and to protect the integrity of the sport.
"That may be true, but the public has no interest in having the 'integrity of the sport' enforced by unconstitutional means,'' she wrote.
Amon's decision cited Nnebe v. Daus, a due process ruling concerning taxi drivers. That's fair as over the years, drivers have relied on decisions issued on behalf of jockeys and trainers who, unlike taxi drivers, have abundant resources to protect their licenses and livelihoods.