Is Bob Baffert a cheater or just really good at his craft? In regard to horse doping, there is a pattern beginning to develop. A trend that is has news out of the horse barns that trainer Bob Baffert frequents. It is called horse doping. The problem exists because some of his horses have tested positive for use of unapproved or banned drugs that thoroughbred horses can be injected with. We aren’t saying this is a new revelation because it has gone on for almost forever with horses.
Some History on Horse Doping
This can be traced all the way back to 480 BC when horses were fed human flesh to make them run faster and to be more savage. Back in the day of Roman glory, they used hydromel for chariot races in hopes of better speed and less injury.
In the United States, it took off in 1933 when betting was made legal. At that time it was estimated that nearly half of all race horses were doped in order to mask injury. This tended to lead to an uptick in injuries. Drugs such as heroin, cocaine, strychnine and caffeine were administered.
“In general, treatments designed to repair a horse’s injuries and to alleviate its suffering are now often used to get the animal out onto the track to compete – to force the animal, like some punch-drunk fighter, to make just one more round.” –Greg Ferraro
There are plenty of stories but no proof that a runt born horse with a split hoof called Northern Dancer was likely to have been among the Kentucky Derby winners that was doped to mask its many deficiencies. This horse won the Kentucky Derby in 1964 and there are many who can stack up the evidence that it won as a doped horse.
Bob Baffert’s Issues with Doping
Baffert is a trainer of race horses. To his credit his trained horse American Pharoah won the triple crown in 2015, his horse Justify won the 2018 triple crown Justify. He has won the Kentucky Derby six times, the Preakness Stakes seven, the Belmont Stakes three times and in 2020 tied a record with Authentic with the most wins at the Kentucky Derby. He has a solid base of winning in his career.
That’s fantastic. But. His recent barrage of finding his horses being doped is concerning. In May of 2020, two of his top horses, Charlatan and Gamine were discovered to have both tested positive for lidocaine. Lidocaine is a numbing agent with legitimate uses to suture wounds or determine a horse’s soundness for competition. Its use is regulated because it can mask lameness in an unsound horse. That is not good. Of course, they fought this ruling and asked for a second test.
The Arkansas Racing Commission suspended the Hall of Fame trainer for 15 days to run from August 1 to August 15th. Charlatan will have to give up the victory of the Arkansas Derby and any money earned. Gamine, winner of the Acorn Stakes, will forfeit money and victory at Oaklawn Park.
Now, in October 2020, Bob Baffert has been accused again of doping that stems back to eat Churchill Downs. In late September, the House passed a anti doping bill that hopes to get a handle on this issue.
“The House bill would empower an independent Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority to set uniform, national standards for medication, track safety and testing of horses for performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs.”
Another incident came up at DelMar in mid July as one of his horses tested positive for dextrorphan. That drug is similar to a cough suppressant that is on the banned list of drugs. This just adds to the growing list of allegations against Baffert.
Bob Baffert’s Attorney Speaks
Craig Robertson, attorney for horse trainer Bob Baffert, had this to say about charges against his client:
First, the thresholds for many lawful medications such as betamethasone are way too low,” Robertson said. “A picogram is a trillionth of a gram. 27 picograms is a minuscule amount that would not affect a thousand-pound animal. The regulations governing racing must be ones that are related to pharmacology in a horse as opposed to how sensitive labs can test. Second, trainers and veterinarians must be able to rely on guidelines given them by racing officials. If they are told by regulators that a medication will clear a horses system in 14 days, they must be able to rely on that information.”
The Baffert Hate
Some in the thoroughbred racing industry don’t like Bob Baffert and that can be from a myriad of reasons such as he talked bad to them, slept with their wife, or maybe they are jealous of his winning. No matter, there are people that hope he fails. This horse blog is very blunt about Baffert feeling like he is bigger than the industry.
Rival trainer Mick Ruis, “The chickens are coming home to roost.”
Did Baffert Cheat?
Generally, in my opinion and not based on facts, they probably all do. We have found out through history that many of the best in their sport found a way to circumvent the rules and were able to perform at a higher level.
On the other side, some are just very good at their craft and can become great without outside help in the world of sports.
But it certainly is suspicious!
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