12/12/2003 12:00AM

Baffert case goes to state judge

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After Monday's refusal by the United States Supreme Court to hear an appeal from trainer Bob Baffert in his long-running battle with the California Horse Racing Board over a positive drug test, his case is effectively back at the state level.

"The state court still has an injunction in our favor," said Neil Papiano, Baffert's attorney.

The case now will be heard by an administrative law judge, whose recommendation can be accepted or rejected by the state racing board.

Because of the initial injunction, Baffert never has served a day of the 60-day suspension ordered as a result of his horse Nautical Look allegedly testing positive for morphine after a race on May 3, 2000, at Hollywood Park. Blood samples from Nautical Look subsequently were destroyed by the state's testing laboratory, Truesdail Laboratories.

Roy Wood, the board's executive director, declined through a spokesman to comment, saying the case was still pending.