The Arkansas Racing Commission on Tuesday rescinded a 15-day suspension of Bob Baffert and restored the wins on last year’s Arkansas Derby (G1) program by both Charlatan and Gamine, each of whom had been disqualified due to an overage of the painkiller lidocaine found in post-race tests.
Instead of a suspension and disqualification as stewards’ had originally ruled, the commission fined Baffert US$5,000 per horse.
During two days of testimony, Baffert’s defense team led by attorney Craig Robertson laid out seven reasons why the positive tests should be dismissed. Most notably, the defense said the positive tests were a result of environmental contamination while also calling into question the chain of custody of the post-race samples. The defense contended the lidocaine found in both horses came via a pain patch worn by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes that contained the substance.
The commission’s ruling came without further comment.
Lidocaine is considered a Class 2 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International and carries a penalty of a 15- to 60-day suspension and a fine of US$500 to US$1,000 for a first offense, minus any mitigating circumstances. Lidocaine is not a banned substance, as it is a widely used anesthetic in racing, but the legal threshold in post-race tests is 20 picograms. Testimony on Monday established Gamine was found with 185 picograms, while Charlatan had 46 picograms.
Charlatan won a division of the Arkansas Derby and Gamine won an allowance race on the undercard. Both were originally disqualified from the wins and stripped of purse money. Charlatan had earned $300,000 in purse money and Gamine had won US$36,000.