Trainer Bob Baffert hoisting the Kentucky Derby trophy for a record seventh time after Medina Spirit’s victory
The New York Racing Association, which will present its case to exclude trainer Bob Baffert at a Jan. 24 disciplinary hearing, added to its “statement of charges” against the Hall of Fame horseman, referencing two additional medication violations in California in 2019, along with an investigator’s report citing “25 different kinds of medications not properly labeled and expired” found in an unlocked medicine cabinet during an August 2019 search of Baffert’s barn at Del Mar by the California Horse Racing Board.
NYRA, quoting from a CHRB Report of Investigation, said Baffert reacted to the two 2019 violations – both for overages of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone – by saying “he thinks someone is intentionally giving Bute to his horses and mentioned that he would be offering a reward to help solve the case.”
It isn’t known if anyone ever received a reward.
The two overages for Bute in California in 2019 are in addition to five medication violations for Baffert runners in three states between May 2, 2020, and May 1, 2021. Those violations included lidocaine positives for Charlatan and Gamine at Oaklawn in Arkansas on May 2, 2020, Charlatan in the G1 Arkansas Derby and Gamine in an allowance race. Both horses were disqualified, according to a stewards rulings, but the Arkansas Racing Commission reinstated their victories and merely fined Baffert. On July 25, 2021, Merneith tested positive at Del Mar for dextrorphan, and Baffert was fined $2,500. Gamine tested positive for a second time in 2020, this time for the corticosteroid betamethasone, after finishing third in the G1 Kentucky Oaks on Sept. 4. She was disqualified and Baffert fined $1,500.
The fifth failed drug test came on May 1, 2021, when Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone after finishing first in the G1 Kentucky Derby. The case has yet to be heard by Kentucky stewards, though Baffert’s attorneys have said the positive test resulted from an ointment used to treat a skin rash and not from an injection of the drug.
The two Bute overages in 2019 were found days apart at Del Mar in Cruel Intention, who finished third on July 27, and Eclair, who finished fourth on Aug. 3.
A statement from NYRA said: “NYRA has amended its Statement of Charges issued against Bob Baffert to reflect additional facts, conclusions and details based on NYRA’s ongoing investigation of Mr. Baffert’s conduct. The NYRA Hearing Rules and Procedures provide a formalized mechanism for a respondent to reply to charges and to participate in a hearing in accordance with due process rights. The hearing for Mr. Baffert is scheduled to begin on January 24, 2022.
“A designated hearing officer will ensure the proceedings are fairly and impartially conducted in accordance with NYRA’s Hearing Rules and Procedures. Following the proceeding, the hearing officer will issue a report containing findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommended disposition.”
The amended Statement of Charges also cites “public statements made by Mr. Baffert and others regarding Mr. Baffert’s claimed retention of a veterinarian (which did not occur) to ensure against future violations, and the implementation of rule changes by Churchill Downs with respect to the qualifying point structure for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.”
Churchill Downs Inc. has excluded Baffert from stabling or racing at any of its facilities, including Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The exclusion runs through the end of the 2023 spring meet at Churchill Downs. In addition, Baffert-trained horses are not eligible to win qualifying points in designated Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races.
NYRA attempted to ban Baffert shortly after he was excluded by Churchill Downs, but Baffert sued in federal court, saying he was denied due process. A judge ruled in his favor and NYRA established rules for the subsequent disciplinary hearing.
O. Peter Sherwood, a retired New York State Supreme Court justice, will serve as hearing officer in the Baffert matter.
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This entry was posted in NL Article, The Biz and tagged Bob Baffert, Bute, charlatan, churchill downs, cruel intention, eclair, gamine, Medina Spirit, Merneith, New York Racing Association, peter sherwood, phenylbutazone by Paulick Report Staff. Bookmark the permalink.