By T. D. Thornton
The federal judge in charge of the Bob Baffert vs. the New York Racing Association (NYRA) case told lawyers for NYRA that she would not schedule a last-minute conference the defendant's counsel had requested to discuss a planned “motion to dismiss” filing.
Instead, in a swift and terse reply written shortly after NYRA's July 6 filing, Judge Carol Bagley Amon entered an order in United States District Court (Eastern District of New York) that stated, “Defendant has filed a request for a pre-motion conference. The request shall be taken up at the hearing scheduled for July 12.”
That date next Monday morning is the one the judge had already set last month to hear the civil complaint against the racing association by the barred Hall-of-Fame trainer, who seeks to overturn a temporary ban NYRA initiated against him.
As of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, NYRA had not yet filed any formal motion to dismiss. On July 6 though, NYRA's attorneys wrote a letter to the court indicating that such a filing was in the pipeline.
On May 17, NYRA informed Baffert that he was temporarily not welcome to stable or race at the association's three tracks (Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack) because of his highly publicized string of recent equine drug positives.
That ban, NYRA said at the time, would be re-evaluated based on information revealed during the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission investigation into Medina Spirit (Protonico)'s positive betamethasone tests that came back after the colt won the GI Kentucky Derby. In the 12 months prior to Medina Spirit's positive, four other Baffert trainees also tested positive for banned substances, two of them in Grade I stakes.
The gaming corporation Churchill Downs, Inc., has already barred Baffert for a two-year period from its five Thoroughbred tracks.
On June 14, Baffert filed a civil complaint against NYRA, alleging that the association's ban violates his Fourteenth Amendment constitutional right to due process.
On June 30, NYRA filed a 236-page memorandum in opposition to granting Baffert an injunction that would get him back on the track in New York.