Reports: 2 horses trained by Bob Baffert fail drug tests

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Two horses from the barn of two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert have tested positive for a banned substance, according to published reports.

The New York Times and Louisville Courier-Journal on Tuesday cited unidentified sources in reporting the positive tests occurred during the recent meet at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

According to the Times, one of the horses to test positive was Charlatan, an undefeated colt considered to be a top contender for the Belmont Stakes on June 20. That race will open this year’s Triple Crown series, which has been rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Charlatan won a split-division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2.

The Times reported Baffert’s other horse to test positive is Gamine, a 3-year-old filly who won at Oaklawn on the same day. The newspaper said both horses tested positive for lidocaine, a regulated anesthetic widely used in equine medicine.

Lidocaine is considered a Class 2 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, and use of it carries a penalty of a 15- to 60-day suspension and a fine of $500 to $1,000 for a first offense, The Times said. Without mitigating circumstances, a horse would be disqualified and forfeit its purse. Charlatan earned $300,000 for first place in the Arkansas Derby.

“The rules of the Arkansas Racing Commission mandate confidentiality concerning any investigation into an alleged rule violation until there is a written decision of the Stewards,” Baffert said in a written statement. “I am extremely disappointed that, in this instance, the Commission has not followed its own rules on confidentiality.

“I am hoping for an expedited investigation and look forward to being able to speak soon about any written decision of the Stewards, if and when it becomes necessary and I’m allowed to under the Commission’s confidentiality rules,” he said.

Reached by text Tuesday night, Baffert told The Associated Press he didn’t want to comment beyond his statement. Asked how premature it is to leak an initial test before a second test is conducted, Baffert said, “I think it’s a great question that someone besides me should answer.”

Baffert has requested a second round of testing on his horses’ samples, which he is allowed to do, according to the Times.

Charlatan is ranked fourth on the qualifying points leaderboard for the Kentucky Derby, a race Baffert has won five times. It has been rescheduled for Sept. 5.

No one at the Arkansas Racing Commission was reachable.

Stradivarius, 3-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, retired to stud

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LONDON – Stradivarius, one of the most famous racehorses in Britain and Ireland after winning the Gold Cup at Ascot three times, has been retired to stud.

Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, said he felt it would be unfair to make the horse come back next season as a 9-year-old after time away with a bruised foot.

“It has been a fairytale from start to finish,” Nielsen told British newspaper The Racing Post.

Stradivarius, bred in Ireland and the son of Sea The Stars, won 20 of his 35 races – including seven Group One races – and earned almost 3.5 million pounds (now $3.8 million) in prize money.

Stradivarius won four Goodwood Cups, three Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.