Baffert suspended after two horses tested positive for drugs

Los Angeles (AFP)


US racing legend Bob Baffert has been suspended for 15 days by racing officials in Arkansas after two of his horses failed drug tests after running at Oaklawn Park on May 2.

The ban -- the minimum penalty that the racing board could hand a trainer found guilty of the infraction -- will be honored in all jurisdictions, so Baffert would not be able to run in California or other states August 1-15.

Baffert was not present when Charlatan won the Arkansas Derby and Gamine won an allowance race at Oaklawn.

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 picograms.

Baffert, who guided both American Pharoah and Justify to Triple Crown glory, said that an employee who was with the horses in Arkansas had inadvertently introduced lidocaine to the animals after applying a pain relief patch to his own back and transferring some medication when handling the horses.

Charlatan has since suffered an injury that has ruled him out of the Kentucky Derby, which has been rescheduled for September 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Filly Gamine has since won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park and could race against colts in the Kentucky Derby.

A lawyer for Baffert told they will appeal the stewards' decision as a case of environmental contamination that did not impact the running of the race.

Baffert faced scrutiny last year after it emerged that his 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify had failed a drugs test ahead of the Kentucky Derby.

Justify escaped sanction for that case after California authorities ruled that positive test could have been the result of contaminated food.