Two horses trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert tested positive for a banned substance at a recently concluded meeting at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, according to a person familiar with the testing process. One of the horses, Charlatan, won a division in the Arkansas Derby on May 2 and was considered one of the top contenders to win the Belmont Stakes on June 20.
The undefeated Charlatan, as well as his stablemate Gamine, who also won on the racing card May 2, tested positive for lidocaine, a local anesthetic agent, according to the person, who spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity as the case had not been fully assessed.
It’s unclear how the case will affect his eligibility for the Belmont Stakes, which will be the first installment of Triple Crown this year due to coronavirus-related pandemic rescheduling. Based on his win in Arkansas, Charlatan is currently ranked fourth on the qualifying points list for the Kentucky Derby, the traditional first leg of the Triple Crown, which is now scheduled for September 5.
Baffert has exercised its right to have a second test run on the samples, which may take a week or longer. Baffert did not return phone calls, texts or emails from The New York Times.
Jack Wolf, executive partner of Starlight Stables, which together owns the people, declined to comment and referred questions to Baffert. Four days after the $ 500,000 Arkansas Derby’s lost victory in the Arkansas Derby, the stallion’s rights were sold for an undisclosed sum to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm.
Lidocaine can be used legitimately to treat ulcers or as a diagnostic tool to determine if horses are healthy enough to compete. The drug can also be found in ointments or creams used in incisions or injuries. It is regulated because of its potential to mask lameness in an uncured horse.
“Nothing has come before the commission yet – we have no facts,” said Alex Lieblong, chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission. “When we get there, there will be no delay tactics. Everything we can speed up we will do. “
Louis Cella, the owner and president of Oaklawn Park, said the commission “grabbed the bull by the horns.”
“We will not have a situation like in California where a horse ran in the Kentucky Derby after failing a drug test,” said Cella, referring to a test that failed by Justify, the winner of Triple Crown 2018. “It was an embarrassment to the industry. We will strive to get this cleared by Belmont Stakes. “
Last year, The New York Times reported that Justify – also trained by Baffert – had failed a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby, almost a month before the Kentucky Derby. The rule on the books at that time required Justify to be disqualified and lost both his prize money and his entry into Derby.
Contestants in California investigated the failed test for four months, allowing Justify to continue competing long enough to not only win Derby, but also Preakness and Belmont Stakes. In August, after Justify’s breeding rights had been sold for $ 60 million, the California Horse Racing Board – whose chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, hired Baffert to train his horses – picked up the investigation completely during a rare closed door collection.
The Board decided that Justify’s positive test for the banned drug scopolamine was the result of “environmental contamination”, not intentional doping. Baffert has denied any wrongdoing, but the amount of drugs available in Justify indicated that it was not due to contamination in his feed or his bedding but rather because of an attempt to improve performance, according to Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug laboratory for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018.
Mick Ruis, the owner of the second horse in the Santa Anita Derby, is in litigation with California officials to get his fill of the Bolt d’Oro to declare the winner and awarded $ 600,000 in first place.
In March, federal prosecutors announced the arrests of 27 people, including veterinarians and drug distributors, who accused them a series of charges involving doping breed horses and tricking the public. Among the accused was Jason Servis – who trained Maximal Security, the horse that finished first in the Kentucky Derby in 2019 but was disqualified for interference. Tableware, according to prosecutors, was heard on wire taps and talked about prohibited joint blockers and blood builders.
The charges, set out in four charges, included astonishing claims that a drug culture had taken hold in the sport. The indictment indicated that the horse owners in the hunt for big wallets looked the other way when questionable tactics were employed, and that some coaches who had shaken off shaken competitors were afraid to do anything to hold them accountable.
The indictment also hinted that regulators and racetrack operators like Churchill Downs were indifferent to the show’s stars, thoroughbred. Drug rules and strict penalties were in place; they just aren’t enforced.
Baffert, who also won the Triple Crown with US Pharoah in 2015, was not named in those charges, but he has endured previous California legislative proceedings.
In 2013, after seven horses in Bafferts care died during a 16-month period, he was the subject of a report from the State Board, which revealed that he had given each horse in his barn a thyroid hormone without checking if any of them had thyroid problems.
Baffert told investigators that he believed the medicine would help to “build up” his horses, even though the drug is generally associated with weight loss. In that case, the Board’s report found no evidence “that C.H.R.B. rules or regulations have been violated. “