Bob Baffert receives 60-day suspension

June 19, 2001 10:31 AM
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Trainer Bob Baffert was given a 60-day suspension on Sunday by the California Horse Racing Board after one of his starters tested positive for a trace level of morphine at Hollywood Park in May 2000.

Baffert and his attorney, Neil Papiano, indicated they plan to appeal the suspension, which is set to run from June 25 through Aug. 23.

The stewards who issued the suspension offered no explanation of their decision on Sunday, but cited two CHRB rules stating that morphine is a drug not legal for use in racehorses, and that he was responsible for the condition of his starters.

An appeal from Baffert will result in a lengthy delay before a final ruling is reached. Initially, the case will be assigned to an administrative law judge, who will hear testimony before making a recommendation to the CHRB. If the board ruled against Baffert, Papiano indicated that Baffert would turn to the courts for further appeals.

That process could take years. A similar case, involving a clenbuterol positive found in the post-race tests taken from Free House following the 1998 Bel Air Handicap, is still under appeal.