Second samples from two horses trained by Bob Baffert confirmed the presence of a prohibited substance after they ran in the Arkansas Derby and an allowance race on May 2 at Oaklawn Park.
Charlatan, winner of one division of the Arkansas Derby, and Gamine, an undefeated filly who subsequently won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont, had samples retested by an independent laboratory and the results showed the presence of lidocaine, an anesthetic. The sample results were first reported by the New York Times.
Baffert, through his attorney, Craig Robertson, issued a statement saying that they plan to defend their case before the Arkansas Racing Commission, which would first need to schedule a hearing. Baffert was not in Arkansas when the horses ran but is still responsible for their condition.
The Arkansas regulators could suspend Baffert for up to 60 days and fine him up to $1,000. As a first offense, it’s unclear whether the maximum penalty of 60 days would be applied. The suspension would carry over to all states. The owners and connections could also forfeit their shares of the purse.
It would have no effect on a horse’s ability to race. Charlatan has since suffered an injury and will not run in the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. Gamine is expected to run in the Kentucky Oaks on Sept. 4.
According to the statement, an unnamed employee who had broken his pelvis and had back pain was wearing a patch on his back that contained lidocaine. Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s longtime assistant who saddled the horses in Arkansas, broke his pelvis in 2017.
“It is believed that lidocaine from that patch was innocently transferred from the employee’s hands to the horses through the application of tongue ties by the employee [who] was handling both horses leading up to May 2,” the statement said.
It also said that the amounts on Charlatan (46 picograms) and Gamine (185 pg) would not have acted as a performance enhancer. A picogram is a trillionth of a gram.
According to the “trainer’s insurer rule,” a trainer is responsible for the condition of their horses, regardless of any participation in their care.
No date for a hearing has been announced.
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