NYRA hits Bob Baffert with one-year ban

Following the issuance of a hearing report by Judge O. Peter Sherwood in April, and in accordance with the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) hearing rules and procedures, a three-member hearing panel has today delivered a final determination in the matter of Robert A. Baffert.

After a two-month review of the 50-page hearing report, the panel has moved to suspend Mr. Baffert from racing or training activities at all NYRA tracks for 365 calendar days effective immediately.

The panel’s decision credits Mr. Baffert with 59 days served under the prior NYRA temporary suspension as well as the 90-day suspension issued by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and reciprocally honored by the New York State Gaming Commission. Accordingly, Mr. Baffert is excluded from participating in racing or training activities at all NYRA tracks through January 25, 2023.

The decision does not apply to tracks outside of the NYRA system and because it is not a state action, there is no reciprocity with other states.

“This was an impartial and deliberative process that has resulted in a lengthy suspension of the sport’s most prominent trainer,” said Dave O’Rourke, NYRA President & CEO. “However, this is not simply about Bob Baffert or any one individual but about protecting the integrity of the sport here in New York. Today’s decision advances that goal.”

The 14-page decision issued by the hearing panel can be found here.

As addressed in the NYRA hearing rules and procedures, the decision of the hearing panel is “final” and takes effect “immediately.” Further, Rule 16(f) states that, “There shall be no administrative appeal within NYRA of the Panel’s final decision.”

In September 2021, NYRA delivered a statement of charges to Mr. Baffert alleging that he had engaged in conduct detrimental to the best interests of the sport of thoroughbred racing or potentially injurious to the health or safety of horses or riders.

Further, as detailed in the statement of charges, NYRA charged that the conduct warrants revocation or suspension of Baffert’s right to train horses, enter races, or engage in any racing-related activity at all NYRA properties including Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

NYRA established Hearing Rules and Procedures to provide a formalized mechanism for a respondent to reply to charges and to participate in a hearing in accordance with due process rights.

The NYRA administrative hearing in the matter of Mr. Baffert commenced on Monday, January 24 and concluded on Friday, January 28. Judge Sherwood, a retired New York State Supreme Court Justice, served as hearing officer to ensure the proceedings were fairly and impartially conducted in accordance with NYRA’s Hearing Rules and Procedures.

The hearing report issued by Judge Sherwood can be found here.