Bob Baffert Suspended by Arkansas Racing Officials After Horses Fail Drug Tests

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2020

Trainer Bob Baffert is seen at Churchill Downs Friday, May 3, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Baffert will saddle three runners in the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, scheduled for Saturday, May 4. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Gregory Payan/Associated Press

The Arkansas Racing Commission suspended trainer Bob Baffert for 15 days after two of his horses tested positive for a banned substance, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press. 

"This is a case of innocent exposure and not intentional administration," Baffert said in a statement. "The extreme sensitivity of modern day testing can now pick up trace levels of innocent contaminants that have no effect on a horse. This is an issue that regulators of horse racing need to account for and address."

Baffert's ban will begin Aug. 1 and go through Aug. 15. 

Baffert's horses, Charlatan and Gamine, tested positive for lidocaine after winning races at Oaklawn Park. The positive test cost Charlatan's owners $300,000 and Gamine's owners $36,000. Baffert says he plans on filing an appeal.

According to Baffert, the horses were exposed to lidocaine when assistant trainer Jim Barnes placed a pain patch on his back. Lidocaine serves as a masking agent in horses.

"The trace levels of lidocaine found in both Charlatan and Gamine would have had no pharmacological effect, much less a performance-enhancing one, on either horse. Zero," Baffert’s attorney, W. Craig Robertson, said. "This is a case of innocent exposure and not intentional administration. A suspension of Mr. Baffert and a disqualification of either horse is completely unwarranted."

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