More Drug Problems for Bob Baffert – But Rest Assured, He’s Innocent

Bob Baffert, again. The superstar trainer with 15 Triple-Crown-races wins is back in the hot seat for drug positives. Last fall, you may recall, The New York Times reported that Justify, Baffert’s 2018 “champion,” failed a drug test in a qualifying race in California before going on to win the Kentucky Derby that year. As the Times said, “That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed.” But California officials dragged their feet for months, allowing Baffert time to win his second TC in four years. Eventually, the CHRB cleared Baffert. Its reasoning (and Baffert’s defense): “environmental contamination” (jimson weed in feed/straw).

(On that determination, the Times’ Joe Drape wrote: “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.”)

Now, word comes that two more of Baffert’s horses – once again, elite ones – tested positive for overages of lidocaine at Oaklawn in May. Baffert’s defense, again: “environmental contamination.” His lawyer, Craig Robertson III, explains (BloodHorse):

“Even though lidocaine is a lawful, widely available therapeutic medication, it was never intentionally administered to either Gamine or Charlatan. When test results indicated that trace [questionable word choice] amounts of lidocaine were found in both horses after their respective races on May 2, Bob Baffert and his team were shocked. … After investigation, it is our belief that both Gamine and Charlatan were unknowingly and innocently exposed to lidocaine by one of Bob’s employees.

“The employee previously broke his pelvis and had been suffering from back pain over the two days leading up to May 2. As a result, he wore a Salonpas patch on his back that he personally applied. That brand of patch contains small amounts of lidocaine. 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….” (“Tongue ties,” by the way, are abusive in and of themselves.)

Pity this hapless Hall of Famer, he just can’t catch a break.


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  1. Partick. You must have been a journalism or creative writing professor. Your sentence construction and word placement and usage are second to none. I read these submissions every morning and I marvel at the way you can bring your ideas to life. If I could write one long paragraph with your skill I could get out of taking Composition 101 and 102 (again).

  2. Poor Bob just keeps getting picked on, even as he’s “winning” and doing everything “right.” The whispers about his alleged cheating have turned into full-blown screams. And it’s not just the new lidocaine positives and the scopolamine overage mentioned in this piece; Baffert-trained Nadal recently suffered a career-ending leg fracture, the same week that (also Baffert-trained) Arrogate was euthanized for a mysterious neurological disease at the ripe old age of seven.
    But of course, all of these so-called outliers can be attributed to bad racing luck, so he’s probably just as squeaky-clean as Servis and Navarro;)

    • There’s ALWAYS an excuse with this guy…in the hay,worker had something on hand…it never ends,(the excuses).

      • Right, Bonnie. Abuse the horses literally to death and, should the “need” for an excuse arise, throw the groom under the bus! These filthy scum Hall of Shamers could not possibly be honest enough to take responsibility for their own cheating, doping, and horse-killing!

  3. Bob baffert is the leading poster boy for what is currently wrong in horse racing. not only has he killed more than his share of horses he is killing the horse racing industry but as long as he keeps plenty of money in his pocket he will carry on doing so.

    • What is currently wrong in horse racing is…horse racing.
      They could conceivably try to rid themselves of all the Bafferts (and the Navarros, and the Hollendorfers, and the Dutrows, and…), but guess what? They’d STILL be left with a horse-killing blood sport that the public no longer supports — and has wholly turned against — AND an overwhelming racehorse-disposal problem that can be neither hidden nor rectified.
      Face it, Gail: Time’s up for your Sport of Kings.

      • The California Horse Racing Board could be in the poster for what is wrong with horseracing in the past, the present and the future. Everything that is anything in horseracing is what is wrong with horseracing. You have to be greedy, filthy scum to think the doping and horrendous lack of regard for the well-being of horses is okay because it is inhumane and definitely NOT okay. That brings up another group of people that could be in the poster for what is wrong with horseracing: the Humane Society of the United States. They take millions of dollars from people with the fake promise that they stand for humane treatment of animals and are right there in bed with the horse-doping and killing psychopaths in horseracing.

  4. If I said here what I am thinking about Bob Baffert, the Barbaric Buffoon, my comment would be deleted. I guess most of you get my drift.
    He is disgusting and his lawyers are disgusting. All of horseracing is disgusting and deplorable!!!!!!!!
    There is nothing redeeming about horseracing and all of the demented, depraved thinking and behavior associated with horseracing and horse-doping and horse-killing!!!!!
    If only these depraved horse-killers could be whipped repeatedly as in the way they whip the horses!!!! Shocking Bob Baffert with electricity would be something “innocent” as well!!!!!

    • How many weeks or months did it take for these horse-killing deviants to come up with this phony bunch of crapola to excuse this slime-ball of doping the horses he “trains”? It is a rhetorical question. They sat on it for several months with JUSTIFY.

      • Wanda. His horse Gamene on June 20 won by a huge margin in the Acorn Stakes race. A record breaking clock time also.

      • Thank you, Nancy. I don’t expect the groom will get recognition for the horse’s “winning” performance but definitely be used by Baffert as a scapegoat to get him out of being disqualified from racing said horse.

  5. Poor guy, this contamination just seeks him out – most unfortunate!!
    His excuses are insulting to say the least. Only in this crooked business can such a crook get away with this. And not only does he get away with it, his animal abuse and cheating earn him high honors and adulation!
    This says ALL one needs to know about
    this business and the corrupt people in it.

  6. Baffert is a doper, cheater and killer.
    That said, it’s not just Baffert that should be the focus here.
    The owners.
    The most richest people in the U.S. send their million dollar racehorses to Baffert and they know damn well what he’s all about.
    Out of all the trainers out there they intentionally and willingly make the decision to send their horse to a multiple doping violator that has lots of racehorses snap their legs-off and crumble to the dirt under the care, custody and control of Bob Baffert.
    This would be equivalent to sending your child to the same daycare that killed your other children without an explanation.
    Furthermore, these owners go AWOL and completely silent when their racehorses are killed.
    You know why?
    Bob Baffert and all of the top trainers have iron-clad owner/trainer contracts that are signed before a racehorse is sent to their barn.
    I’ve seen these contracts and they more or less give Baffert a license to kill with no repercussions and the owner isn’t even allowed to talk about it.
    That’s why they go silent.
    These owners know damn well that their racehorse is probably going to be doped up to the hilt with everything, but the kitchen sink to win their big races to qualify for the goal: The Kentucky Derby.
    They don’t care about that because they only care about winning, making money, and their egos.
    You can’t possibly care about your horse if you intentionally send them into Baffert’s stable knowing that you are subjecting them to a laboratory experiement that often goes horribly wrong or it can go horribly right and they gamble on their racehorse’s life.
    Yes indeed there’s much more gambling going on than just $2 bets and the racehorses pay the price.

    • You are absolutely correct—I will no longer keep contributing to this BS until a neutral, independent board is created to monitor and regulate the industry—Horse racing needs Horsemen and women instead of trainers that are nothing more than chemists–probably with an “independent contractor” administering the drugs with no accountablility–

  7. Wow Gina thank you for all of that information I did not know that you seem to know a lot about it. Do you know any possible way to stop it. I think I’ve emailed the governor and senator in people but it’s got to be somebody else. Thank you

  8. Horse racing will never be shut down. You’re not going to tell me that every thoroughbred owner and trainer is a scumbag with dollar signs in his eyes. And of course we come to this question: If all racing were banned, what would you do with all the thoroughbreds. And what about the thousands of jobs that would be lost? And while we’re at it, why don’t we ban football, boxing, hockey…?

    • While your entire comment is vacuous, I will address the “will never be shut down” and “what to do with all the thoroughbreds” parts. Horseracing will not suddenly come to a close overnight. It will contract – or to be more precise, continue to contract: I have documented a net loss of 34 racetracks in the U.S. just since 2000. The Jockey Club’s annual “foal crop” – the number of baby Thoroughbreds being registered each year – is roughly half what it was in 1990. All other relevant metrics are also down – racedays, races, “field sizes,” etc. See, contraction. Now, as to your question of where those horses who are left will go, I turn it back on you – where, pray tell, do they go now? The vast majority – 10,000-15,000 or more annually – of “retired” racehorses are brutally and violently slaughtered at the end of their productivity. Yes, that’s right, this multi-billion dollar industry, littered with loads of obscenely wealthy people, is sending most of its erstwhile “family members” to the abattoirs to be shackled, slashed, bled-out, and butchered. So you see, your question is grossly misdirected.

    • So you’re telling us, John F Piper, that the “scumbags” and “non-scumbags” would still race horses if there were no checks waiting across the finish line?

      And where would all the horses go if racing ceased to exist? – hey, I was just told again yesterday that “these [race]horses are treated better than my own kids”. Those who benefit from racing claim it all the time…the horses are “like family” – they “get the best of everything”. So what are you worried about? – won’t these “non-scumbags” provide their “children” with forever, loving homes?

  9. I was over on bute many years ago at Beulah park far far away from California an the stewards were going to ban me for life over bute I realize horses do have aches an pains .My question is Baffert has been caught 28 times an still have a job an everyone else is the bad guy wake up America earl pitts

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