Two top horses, including an Arkansas Derby winner, were found to have a numbing agent in their systems. The Arkansas Racing Commission suspended the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert for 15 days on Wednesday and vacated the victories of two of his horses after they tested positive for a banned substance.
One of the horses, Charlatan, won a division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2. The colt’s owners will forfeit the $300,000 in prize money for finishing first. The owner of the other horse, a filly named Gamine, must forfeit a $36,000 first-place check won in an allowance race earlier that day. The suspension will run from Aug. 1 to 15.
On June 20, Gamine won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park in New York by nearly 19 lengths in a stakes-record time of 1 minute 32.55 seconds, a performance that inspired talk of the filly taking on males in the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for Sept. 5.
Baffert is America’s pre-eminent active trainer. He has won the Kentucky Derby five times. In 2015, he trained American Pharoah, the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. Baffert won his second Triple Crown in 2018 with the colt Justify.
Lidocaine can be used legitimately for suturing wounds or as a diagnostic tool to determine if horses are sound enough to compete. The drug may also be present in ointments or creams used on cuts or abrasions. It is regulated because of its potential to mask lameness in an unsound horse.
In a hearing, Baffert and his representatives argued that the horses were accidentally exposed to the lidocaine by an assistant trainer, Jimmy Barnes, who had applied a medicinal patch to his own back. Barnes had broken his pelvis, and the brand of patch he used, Salonpas, contains small amounts of Lidocaine. The drug was transferred from his hands through the application of a tongue tie, they said.
A lawyer for Baffert, W. Craig Robertson, said the trainer was disappointed in the ruling and planned to appeal. In a statement, he said, “This is a case of innocent exposure and not intentional administration.”
Four days after Charlatan’s runaway victory in the Arkansas Derby, the colt’s stallion rights were sold for an undisclosed sum to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms. The colt missed the Belmont Stakes with an ankle injury, and Baffert has said he will miss the Kentucky Derby, as well. Charlatan may be able to come back in time for the Preakness on Oct. 3.
Baffert-trained Justify failed a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby, nearly a month before the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Justify wound up winning the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont that year for the Triple Crown. The rule on the books when Justify failed the test required that the horse be disqualified, forfeiting both his prize money from the Santa Anita Derby and his entry into the Kentucky Derby.
California racing officials investigated the failed test for four months, allowing Justify to keep competing long enough to win the Triple Crown. 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, had employed Baffert to train his horses — disposed of the inquiry in a rare closed-door session.
The board ruled that Justify’s positive test for the banned drug scopolamine had been the result of “environmental contamination,” not intentional doping. Baffert has denied any wrongdoing, but the quantity of the drug found in Justify suggested that it was present not because of contamination in his feed or his bedding but rather because of an effort to enhance performance, according to Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018.
Mick Ruis, the owner of the second-place horse in the Santa Anita Derby, is in litigation with California officials to have his colt Bolt d’Oro declared the winner and awarded the $600,000 first-place check.
Source: New York Times
During the past four years, The Jockey Club and Meadowlands Racetrack have retained the services of a leading international investigative company, and that association might have paid a dividend in the recent federal indictments of Thoroughbred trainers Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro as well as several harness racing trainers in a doping scheme.
Through the recommendation of officials from the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency, The Jockey Club turned to 5 Stones intelligence in 2016 to provide confidential investigative services.
"It is vitally important to the sport that it is regulated competently and by authorities that are independent," said James Gagliano, the president and chief operating officer for The Jockey Club. "That is a hallmark of the Horseracing Integrity Act, and it has never been more important to the sport, given the events of this week."
Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural, who operates a harness racing meet at the New Jersey racetrack, said he also employed 5 Stones and that information from 5 Stones played a role in the federal indictments of 29 people that were announced March 9-11 by the United States District Attorney, Southern District of New York.
"We participated with The Jockey Club in retaining (5 Stones) to help lead the FBI in the right direction," Gural said.
Gural echoed the call for passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, saying racetracks have been turning a blind eye to cheaters for far too long. "All the racetrack owners in the country who said they cared about this didn't care. They had to know the only way to catch these guys was through undercover and surveillance companies. Without them, you were just giving lip service that you cared," Gural said. "There's no gray area when it comes to honesty. Everyone knew the system was broken, but no one cared about it. There's no way we can tell people in politics that we care if we don't let the USADA take over. The funny thing is that when I would talk to people who oppose the government taking over, the next thing I would ask is if the current system is working, and 100% would say no. I don't understand that. They knew the system wasn't working, and they were happy with it.
Servis, who trains recent Saudi Cup winner Maximum Security, who was disqualified from first to 17th in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1), and Navarro, the seven-time leading trainer at Monmouth Park, are scheduled to be arraigned March 23 on charges of a misbranding conspiracy.
BloodHorse reported March 14 that Servis and Navarro could appear before the New York federal court for arraignment and initial conference either in person or by telephone conference in a concession to travel difficulties because of COVID-19.
The indictment charged that Servis had performance-enhancing drugs administered to "virtually all of the racehorses under his care" and that Navarro orchestrated "a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to horses under his control."
Navarro is facing two counts of the misbranding charge, each carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Servis was charged with one count and could be imprisoned for up to five years if found guilty.
Among the harness trainers indicted are Rene Allard, who was third in North American earnings last year, Richard Banca, Nick Surick, Chris Oakes, Chris Marino, Rick Dane Jr., and assistant trainer Conor Flynn.
Allard, Banca, Oakes and Marino were barred by Gural from racing at Meadowlands prior to the indictments. Banca and Allard are the runaway leaders at the current Yonkers Raceway meet, combining for 367 wins in 2020 before racing was suspended due to COVID-19 after the March 9 card.
Gural believes there will be more indictments in the weeks and months to come.
"People will (provide information to authorities)," Gural said. "Anyone who used these people who were indicted cannot be sleeping well."
Source: Blood Horse
Source: Washington Post Opinion by Bob Baffert Baffert trained Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify. Horses he has trained since 1992 have won five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preakness Stakes, three Belmont Stakes, 15 Breeders’ Cup races and three Dubai World Cups.
The horse-racing world was stunned this week by the arrest of 27 people on federal horse-doping charges. The indictments describe a “widespread, corrupt" scheme to give racehorses performance-enhancing and other banned drugs that can mask preexisting injuries and directly lead to horse injuries and death.
Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our equine and human athletes, and nothing impacts their health and safety more than the policies and procedures concerning drugs. These indictments show that the current system of 38 state racing jurisdictions, each with its own regulatory body, laws and regulations, is entirely inadequate.
Horse racing is experiencing the most profound crisis in the long history of the sport. To emerge stronger, we must act decisively to protect the horses who are the stars of the show; nothing else will restore the confidence of fans, gamblers and the general public. And that means federal action.
Our horses and jockeys deserve an unbiased, independent national anti-doping authority. Fortunately, the Horseracing Integrity Act (HIA) is moving through Congress.
Horse racing is more international than ever, so it’s important that our national policies align with globally accepted international standards and rules. Fortunately, the HIA provides that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) would play a key role in this national governing body. The USADA is universally recognized as having world-class drug knowledge and anti-doping expertise, and it governs anti-doping programs for the U.S. Olympic team and others. The agency is independent, unbiased and would have no agenda other than the best interests of our athletes and our sport. Its oversight would ensure that we have the best possible rules, testing protocols and effective penalties. This in turn would ensure that horses would receive medications only when the therapeutic benefits would clearly outweigh any negative or health-threatening effects, and that the cheaters would be quickly caught and punished.
The HIA was introduced in the House by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and has strong bipartisan support, with 244 co-sponsors. Companion legislation was introduced into the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and has 24 co-sponsors. The bill is moving, but Congress needs to speed up the pace.
In the past, there has been disagreement about whether a federally sponsored anti-doping body was necessary, and I understand the reluctance of many in the industry to invite Washington onto the track. However, these federal indictments clearly show that a patchwork of 38 separate regulatory bodies doesn’t work and that the losers are horses and all those who love this grand sport.
It is time for the horse-racing industry to unite in support of a national anti-doping regulatory system. I invite all of my colleagues to join me in clearly asking Congress to pass the Horseracing Integrity Act.