Superior Court Judge Gives Baffert Stay of Suspension

Trainer Bob Baffert received a stay of the 60-day suspension he was given last Sunday by California Horse Racing Board stewards as a result of a positive test for trace levels of morphine in Nautical Look, a Baffert-trained runner who won a maiden race at Hollywood Park last May 3. The suspension was to begin on June 25 and run through Aug. 23. During the time of the suspension, Baffert would have been banned from all racetrack premises.

Baffert's attorney, Neil Papiano, requested the stay on Friday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court from Judge David P. Yaffe. Papiano said the order stays all proceedings, voids the stewards' decisions and the decision by CHRB chairman Robert Tourtelot not to grant Baffert a stay, "until such time as we are able to exhaust all proceedings and get a decision."

Papiano said the CHRB has the option to conduct a public hearing among all CHRB members, remand the case to an administrative law judge, or let the legal system decide the case. "My guess is they will go to an administrative law judge," said Papiano.

Baffert's defense during an eight-day hearing in April centered on contamination, either in food products handled by stable employees or from poppies in hay fields. An assistant attorney general recommended a six-month suspension and $10,000 fine for the violation.