Two of leading U.S trainer Bob Baffert’s undefeated horses have returned positive spit-sample tests for a banned substance after the Arkansas Derby in May.
Undefeated duo Charlatan who won a division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2 and filly Gamine who won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park in New York on June 20 by almost 19 lengths in a stakes-record time of 1:32.55 have both tested positive for banned substance lidocaine.
After both tested positive from their initial samples in late May, a second round of testing was ordered with results today confirmed by the New York Times that the pair had tested positive to lidocaine, a widely used anesthetic in racing, which is considered a Class 2 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
The use of lidocaine carries a penalty of a 15-60-day suspension and a fine of $500-$1,000 for a first offense.
Lidocaine’s use is regulated because it can act as a masking agent for more sinister doping mechanisms.
Without mitigating circumstances, a horse would be disqualified and forfeit its purse should it test positive.
Charlatan earned $300,000 for first place in one of two top races at the Arkansas Derby and was considered the leading contender for the Belmont Stakes on June 20 before the Colt was withdrawn with an ankle injury.
Baffert has since said he will also miss the Kentucky Derby in September but didn’t rule out the third leg of the Triple Crown, The Preakness on October 3 for Charlatan.
The latest positive tests are yet another mark on the U.S Racing Hall of Famer, who’s charge Justify failed a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby, nearly a month before the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
Justify went on to win the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes to claim the 2018 Triple Crown.
At the time, Justify should have been disqualified, forfeiting both his prize money from the Santa Anita Derby and his entry into the Kentucky Derby.
However, due to a delay in proceedings from California racing officials during the investigation, it allowed Justify to continue to race during that period, allowing it to compete long enough during the investigation to win the Triple Crown.
It was not until August when Justify’s breeding rights had been sold for US$60 million that the California Horse Racing Board — whose chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, had employed Baffert to train his horses — disposed of the inquiry during a rare closed-door session, finding the banned drug scopolamine had been the result of “environmental contamination,” – non-intentional doping.
In March, United States federal prosecutors arrested 27 individuals including stable staff, veterinarians and drug distributors, charging them with a series of indictments with purposefully and wilfully doping racehorses to win by deception.
Among those charged was Jason Servis — who trained Maximum Security, the horse that won the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference.
Off the back of Gamine’s record-breaking win on Belmont Stakes Day last month, it was considered that she may take on the boys in the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for September 5. Those plans, however, remain up in the air until a formal announcement has been made from U.S racing officials.
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