Famed Triple Crown trainer with 30 career drug violations vows to keep horses clean

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·3-min read

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose horse Justify became the 13th Triple Crown winner in 2018, vowed to keep his horses clean after four known drug tests in his barn over the past six months.

Baffert released a statement ahead of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this weekend, the final stop of the season. The most decorated trainer in American horse racing has at least 30 medication violations over his career, per the Louisville Courier-Journal, and is facing accusations of cheating.

Hall of Fame trainer addresses horse drug tests

Baffert has won six Kentucky Derby races, tying the record, and earned a rare Triple Crown two times in the last five years.

“I am very aware of the several incidents this year concerning my horses and the impact it has had on my family, horse racing, and me,” Baffert said in a statement, via the New York Times. “I want to have a positive influence on the sport of horse racing. Horses have been my life and I owe everything to them and the tremendous sport in which I have been so fortunate to be involved.

“We can always do better and that is my goal. Given what has transpired this year, I intend to do everything possible to ensure I receive no further medication complaints.”

Per the Courier-Journal, Baffert said he will take more personal responsibility for what happens with the horses and is increasing training for his employees.

“I want to raise the bar and set the standard for equine safety and rule compliance going forward,” Baffert said. “For those of you that have been upset over the incidents of this past year, I share in your disappointment. I humbly vow to do everything within my power to do better. I want my legacy to be one of making every effort to do right by the horse and the sport.”

Baffert faces 4 positive tests in 6 months

Bob Baffert near a fence.
Trainer Bob Baffert vowed to do better after a rash of failed drug tests. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Charlatan, a 3-year-old colt, and Gamine, a 3-year-old filly, both tested positive in May for lidocaine, a localized numbing agent. A total of 29 horses were tested, per the Courier-Journal, and both of the positives came from the trainer’s barn.

Baffert was suspended for 15 days and the horse owners were required to forfeit the prize money acquired. They each won a division at the Arkansas Derby.

Gamine tested positive for betamethasone after a third-place finish at Kentucky Oaks in September. A different filly, Merneith, tested positive for dextrophan after a second-place finish in July at Del Mar.

Triple Crown winner Justify failed drug tests

These four positives are the latest in a string of them for Baffert covering a four-decade career. Justify was a headline case in 2018, failing a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby, the Times reported in September of 2019. The horse should have been unable to enter the Kentucky Derby, per rules. But Chuck Winner, California Horse Racing Board’s chairman at the time of the test, began a four-month long investigation.

Justify was also able to compete in the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes during that time for a Triple Crown victory. In August 2018, the board ruled the positive was due to “environmental contamination and disposed of the inquiry altogether during a rare closed-door session,” per the Times.

The Santa Anita victory is part of a lawsuit that is being heard in California.

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