NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge has canceled the New York Racing Association (NYRA) suspension of famous thoroughbred coach Bob Baffert, stating the organization had not offered him a post-suspension hearing.

The verdict was a significant win for the coach, one of the sport’s most successful and well-known personalities, and enables him to return to races in New York State with immediate effect.

In May, NYRA banned Baffert-trained horse Medina Spirit from participating in the Belmont Stakes, the third and final stage of the Triple Crown, after the Kentucky Derby winner failed a drug test.

A month later, Baffert sued NYRA over the suspension that prevented him from running horses on state racetracks.

In her ruling on Wednesday, US District Judge Carol Bagley Amon wrote that NYRA had an obligation to hear Baffert “immediately” after the suspension and that he would likely show that the suspension violates his constitutional rights to due process.

“NYRA did not hold a hearing – let alone a prompt one,” she wrote. “With so much at stake, Baffert was entitled to (at least) an ‘immediate’ hearing after the withdrawal, which should have already taken place.”

NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke said in a statement that the association is reviewing its “legal options and next steps”.

“Mr. Baffert’s actions and conduct can either improve or harm the sport. We expect Mr. Baffert to exercise appropriate controls over his operations,” said O’Rourke.

Baffert’s attorney W. Craig Robertson said in a statement that he hoped the ruling would “lead to cooperation between the parties.”

“There has been an unreasonable rush for the verdict and Mr Baffert has been treated unfairly,” Robertson said. “This is a step, in one place, to redress this wrong.”

The racing season in Saratoga starts on Thursday.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Stephen Coates)