(Bob Baffert / Photo by Gene McLean)
The Arkansas Racing Commission has met. It has decided. And, it has handed down a ruling.
Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended for 15 days and two of his top 3-year-olds — Charlatan, who won a division of the G1 Arkansas Derby, and Gamine, who won an allowance race on the undercard — have been disqualified from their respective victories.
After the racing on May 2, it was later reported that both of Baffert’s horses had trace amounts of lidocaine — a therapeutic medication that is sometimes used on horses for suturing wounds and other issues — that exceeded the permitted limits on race day.
Once it was discovered, Baffert and his connections asked for a split sample of the post-race drug test to be sent to another lab for inspection. That process took nearly a month to complete, and, reportedly, affirmed the initial test results.
Charlatan, who won a division of the G1 Arkansas Derby and was subsequently rated as one of the top 3YO colts on the road to this year’s Kentucky Derby, has been sidelined since that win by an ankle injury and is now recovering. The colt is expected to return to training in the near future.
Gamine, a highly-touted filly in the Baffert barn, came right back to score a huge win in the G1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park and is now considered a prime candidate for either the Kentucky Oaks, or, perhaps, the Kentucky Derby, if the connections decided to try the colts.
Since the ruling has become public, Baffert’s attorneys have argued that the drug amounts that showed up in the post-race tests was due to a medical patch — that contained lidocaine — was being worn by Assistant Trainer Jimmy Barnes on that day. Barnes, who was and is recovering from a broken pelvis, saddled both horses at Oaklawn Park that day and administered a “tongue tie.”
Baffert and his team have argued that the high amount of lidocaine was transferred accidentally into the horses system by Barnes, who had the drug particles on his hands.
While lidocaine is a legal substance, it is regulated because when utilized in high amounts it could have a “numbing” affect, and could mask a potential injury. In Arkansas, there is a 72-hour recommended withdraws time and on race day the thresholds is 20 picograms per milliliter.
Gamine was found to have 185 picograms in her system, while Charlatan was reported to have 46 picograms per milliliter.
It is not know if Baffert and the other connections of the horses will appeal the Arkansas Racing Commission’s ruling.