By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Training legend Bob Baffert, the most recognisable figure in American racing, has been suspended for 15 days owing to positive dope tests returned by high-profile three-year-olds Charlatan and Gamine on the Arkansas Derby card.
As expected, both horses have been disqualified from their victories at Oaklawn Park on May 2, where Charlatan won a division of the G1 Arkansas Derby and Gamine won an allowance race.
The stewards, who met on Monday, were awaiting the results of a split sample before issuing their penalty.
Results of split samples on both Baffert-trained horses confirmed they had tested positive for an above-threshold amount of local anaesthetic lidocaine, also used to treat human back pain.
Baffert is due to serve his ban from August 1 to 15. The Steve Asmussen-trained Basin now gains a G1 success after being promoted to first place in the Arkansas Derby, while leading Kentucky Oaks hope Speech moves up to first in Gamine’s race.
Baffert’s Lexington-based attorney Craig Robertson said his client would be appealing on grounds of innocent cross contamination.
“I’m disappointed in the rulings,” Robertson said, speaking to the Daily Racing Form.
“I believe we presented a compelling case that there were mitigating circumstances – first, innocent exposure to lidocaine, and that there was no pharmacological impact, no performance-enhancing effect. It had zero outcome on the race itself.”
Baffert’s senior assistant Jimmy Barnes, who saddled the horse at Oaklawn in the trainer’s absence, fractured his pelvis in September 2017.
A third Baffert-trained horse, Nadal, won the second division of the Arkansas Derby. He tested clean.
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