NEW YORK -- A New York federal judge 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 post-race drug test.
In her written ruling, Brooklyn Judge Carol Bagley Amon said a prompt post-suspension hearing where Baffert could refute the claims was required to meet constitutional muster.
But she said the racing association "had held no hearing -- let alone a prompt one."
Attorney W. Craig Robertson III, who represented Baffert at a Monday hearing before Amon, said the ruling confirms that "following the Kentucky Derby, there was an improper rush to judgment and Mr. Baffert has been treated unfairly."
He called Amon's ruling "one step, in one venue, toward righting those wrongs," and said he hoped it would lead to cooperation between the parties rather than division.
A lawyer for the racing association did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Amon said she concluded that Baffert had established a likelihood he will prove the suspension violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. She said he also made a "strong showing" that there would be irreparable harm if the suspension was not overturned.
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.