A retired New York State Supreme Court Justice on Wednesday recommended a two-year suspension for Bob Baffert for repeated medication violations after the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer’s hearing with the New York Racing Association.
The 50-page ruling by hearing officer O. Peter Sherwood is not a final decision. Baffert’s camp and NYRA each have 14 days to offer rebuttals before a three-person panel rules on his status.
“NYRA met its burden with respect to all three of the charges against Baffert,” Sherwood wrote in his opinion, referring to charges of conduct detrimental to the best interests of racing, the health and safety of horses and jockeys, and the organization’s business operations. “NYRA maintains (and the record shows) that Baffert has engaged in a pattern and practice of unlawful conduct that has no parallel in the modern history of thoroughbred racing.”
The panel’s decision cannot be appealed through NYRA’s process, which was developed last year after Baffert successfully sued in federal court to get his initial suspension in the state of New York lifted. That suspension in May came before the Belmont Stakes and after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that was not permitted in a horse’s system on race day.