Bob Baffert suspended 15 days after two horses tested positive for prohibited substance

Bob Baffert at Belmont Park in 2018
Trainer Bob Baffert will be suspended for 15 days starting Aug. 1 after two of his horses tested positive for a prohibited substance at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.
(Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has been ordered to serve a 15-day suspension by the Arkansas Racing Commission after two of his horses tested positive for an analgesic after running at Oaklawn Park on May 2. Suspensions are honored in all jurisdictions, so he would not be able to run in California or anywhere else between Aug. 1 and 15.

The 15-days suspension is the minimum penalty that the racing board could give a trainer found guilty of the infraction. Trainers are bound by the “trainer’s insurer rule” under which a trainer is ultimately responsible for everything about their horse, even if they are not physically present.

Baffert was not in Arkansas when Charlatan won the Arkansas Derby and Gamin won an allowance race. Both tested positive for lidocaine, a pain reliever that is legal in certain amounts. Gamine had 185 picograms in her system and Charlatan had 46 pg. The legal amount is 20 pg. A picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.

Los Alamitos Race Course, currently under a 10-day probation for a spike in horse deaths, had its 21st fatality this meeting on Sunday, the ninth since May 26

Baffert’s defense was that an employee, believed to be assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes, had applied a Salonpas pain relief patch to his back for treatment of a previous injury, and that lidocaine from the patch was then inadvertently transferred to tongue ties that were put on the horses before the race.

The purse money earned by the horses in the Oaklawn races, $300,000 for Charlatan and $36,600 for Gamine, must be forfeited.

Charlatan since has suffered an injury and will not run in the Kentucky Derby, rescheduled to Sept. 5 because of the coronavirus outbreak, and Gamine since has won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park and is on track to run in the Kentucky Oaks .