Hearings in Baffert drug case continue at Oaklawn

Hearings in Baffert drug case continue at Oaklawn
Photo: Ted McClenning / Eclipse Sportswire

The Arkansas Racing Commission reconvened Tuesday, after hearing nine hours of testimony Monday on Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s appeal of his suspension and fine by Oaklawn stewards for two drug positives from 2020.

Charlatan and Gamine both tested positive for small amounts of lidocaine, a painkiller, causing Baffert to be suspended for 15 days and the horses to be disqualified. The trainer and his attorneys have said that the violation was due to accidental contamination from a back pain patch worn by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.

“We shouldn’t be here today,” Baffert’s attorney Craig Robertson said in his opening statement on Monday. “None of us should be here today. This case should have been dismissed a long time ago and I'm convinced that if the case didn’t involve a high profile trainer like Bob Baffert and if it didn’t involve a high profile race like the Arkansas Derby, it would have been dismissed a long time ago.”

Robertson’s chief argument was that the samples that tested positive should have been thrown out due to several custody violations, including a misidentification of Charlatan as a gelding instead of a colt, the fact that the coolers holding samples were opened at some point in the chain of custody.

The commission's attorney, Byron Freeland, acknowledges some of the issues, but said that none of them rose to the level that would require the ruling to be overturned.

Freeland said the mislabeling of Charlatan was not on the commission’s end. He also said how a horse is labeled makes no difference when testing for lidocaine.

It makes no difference what the sex of the horse was when you’re testing for lidocaine,” Freeland said. “If the urine and blood are positive for lidocaine, it’s positive regardless of the sex.”

Testimony in the hearing resumed Tuesday at Oaklawn. 

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