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REPORT: Bob Baffert’s Undefeated Kentucky Derby Contender Tests Positive for Banned Substance

Michael Reaves | Getty Images

Michael Reaves | Getty Images

One of horse racing’s top Triple Crown contenders has reportedly tested positive for a banned substance.

According to The New York Times two horses trained by Bob Baffert, Charlatan and Gamine, tested positive for the banned substance lidocaine at Arkansas’ Oaklawn Park. Each horse won at the track May 2, including Charlatan’s dominant victory in the Arkansas Derby. The undefeated colt is considered one of the best three-year-old colts in America, currently fourth in the Kentucky Derby points standings.

Baffert has exercised his right to have a second test performed on the samples and he issued the following statement Tuesday night.

“The rules of the Arkansas Racing Commission mandate confidentiality concerning any investigation into an alleged rule violation until there is a written decision of the Stewards,” the statement reads. “I am extremely disappointed that, in this instance, the Commission has not followed its own rules on confidentiality.

“I am hoping for an expedited investigation and look forward to being able to speak soon about any written decision of the Stewards, if and when it becomes necessary and I’m allowed to under the Commission’s confidentiality rules.”

Lidocaine is a class 2 banned substance with penalties that range from a 15 to a 60-day suspension, enough time to impact whether or not the horse is eligible to race in the Belmont Stakes in June. If proven guilty, Charlatan’s ownership may have to return its $300,000 Arkansas Derby purse.

The use of the numbing agent is not necessarily as a performance enhancer. As Dr. Mary Scollay explained to Horse Racing Nation, it’s banned in certain instances for the health and safety of the horse.

“[Lidocaine] is a legitimate medication that has a role in equine practice. And quite frankly, it would be not appropriate for us to make it a banned substance at all times because that could have a negative impact on equine welfare. I wouldn’t want to have a wound sutured without lidocaine,” Scollay said.

“We want people to be able to use it appropriately, but we also want to make sure that it does not have an impact on a horse participating in a race,” she continued. “That’s why we have withdrawal guidance for its use, we have a regulatory threshold that corresponds to the withdrawal guidance.”

This is not the first time The New York Times has called for an inquiry on Baffert. In September the newspaper reported that Justify, the 2018 Triple Crown winner, failed a drug test after it won its primary Kentucky Derby prep race at Santa Anita. Not only do the horses share trainers, they’re each partially owned by Starlight Racing.

[New York Times]

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

10 Comments for REPORT: Bob Baffert’s Undefeated Kentucky Derby Contender Tests Positive for Banned Substance



  1. BigBlueFoo42777
    12:10 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

    Seems like that could potentially be dangerous. One would assume if the horse was numb it may not realize it was injured and keep running. Hopefully a false positive test.



    • JASUN74
      3:03 am May 28, 2020 Permalink

      Man I hope so too. It’s a big time game so who knows what happens when that kind of money is moving around. I like Bob though and I’m with you hoping it comes back ok. So Nike are you HATING? Or just reporting the news? Lol. I know you’ve got your favorites, is Bob one of them? Haha. You don’t have to answer of course, just wondering.



  2. IrishCat
    12:19 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

    Can I say it? Horse Racing is the worst. There, I said it.



    • UKrailbird
      12:21 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

      Irish kittens are the worst!



    • BowdenQB4ever
      12:34 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

      It’s the toughest game in the world. I understand why the small minded never take to handicapping, but I don’t understand their resentment.



    • TonyMontana
      1:38 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

      Nearly 10 horses died every week at American racetracks in 2018.



    • Skooms
      1:55 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

      I don’t understand how the small minded “half-fan” such as Bowden4ever can’t truly understand that a fan of a school shouldn’t CONSISTENTLY knock on the bball program. You, Mashbum, and a few others are small minded half-fans. Maybe one day you’ll grow up and realize you’re actually UofL fans.



    • BowdenQB4ever
      2:57 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

      Skooms, there’s a certain segment of the fanbase that takes anything that isnt glowingly positive as a personal attack. They ruined Rupp’s Rafters, and now you all have migrated over here. It’s sad, but no fan base is perfect. Hope you find somewhere safe to direct your anger.



  3. timbo
    10:01 pm May 27, 2020 Permalink

    Lidocaine? I saw guys use that all the time on the football field. Not sure why that would be a banned substance, and certainly can’t understand why this would be so blown out of proportion. I read the first headline like “oh yeah, of course he cheats…” but this is not that smoking gun. It’s really quite silly.



    • JASUN74
      3:19 am May 28, 2020 Permalink

      Yeah Timbo, That’s about what I was thinking.