ELMONT, N.Y. (NEWS10/NYRA) – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced Friday that it has issued a notice of hearing and statement of charges to trainers Robert A. Baffert and Marcus J. Vitali.
NYRA contends that Mr. Baffert and Mr. Vitali have engaged in conduct that is 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 respective statements of charges, this conduct warrants revocation or suspension of their 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 has established Hearing Rules and Procedures that provide a formalized mechanism for a respondent to reply to charges and to participate in a hearing in accordance with due process rights. The hearing for Mr. Baffert is scheduled to begin on September 27, 2021. The hearing for Mr. Vitali is scheduled to begin on September 30, 2021.
“NYRA has a responsibility to protect the integrity of the sport of thoroughbred racing,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O’Rourke. “We are determined to ensure the actions taken in furtherance of that goal comport with the requirements of due process, which is what the hearing rules and procedures established by NYRA provide.”
A designated hearing officer will ensure the proceedings are fairly and impartially conducted in accordance with NYRA’s Hearing Rules and Procedures. Following the proceeding, the hearing officers will issue a report containing findings of fact, conclusions, and a recommended disposition.
The Honorable O. Peter Sherwood, a retired New York State Supreme Court Justice, will serve as hearing officer in the Mr. Baffert matter. The Honorable Robert Smith, a retired Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, will serve as hearing officer in the Mr. Vitali matter.
NYRA says the charges against Baffert stem from illegal drug use on thoroughbreds, capped with Medina Spirit testing positive for a drug that was illegal to use 14 days before a race in Kentucky.
NYRA says the charges against Vitali stem from drug and other violations spanning multiple states.
Click on the links below for more details on the proceedings.