• Hall of Fame horse trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended for 15 days after two of his horses, Charlatan and Gamine, failed drug tests.
  • Both horses tested positive for lidocaine, a numbing agent that can be used to help horses perform at their peak even when injured.
  • Baffert’s horses have now failed a combined 20 drug tests during his career.
  • His suspension will last from August 1 to August 15 and will not interfere with any major competitions but could impact Gamine’s preparation for the Kentucky Oats.
  • Baffert’s suspension has not had a major impact on betting odds for upcoming races.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Bob Baffert, one of the world’s most prominent horse trainers, has been issued a 15-day suspension after two of his horses tested positive for a banned substance.

The two horses will also be forced to forfeit their victories at the Arkansas Derby back in May. The owners of the two horses, Charlatan and Gamine, will also be forced to forfeit a combined $336,000 in prize money from their first-place finishes.

Charlatan won one division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2, while Gamine set a new record at the Acorn Stakes. Baffert’s suspension will take effect beginning on August 1 and last until August 15.

Charlatan was formerly one of the favorites to win the 2020 Kentucky Derby, which has been postponed until September 5, but was forced to withdraw because of an injury sustained in training.

This is not Baffert’s first experience with failed drug tests for his horses. Charlatan and Gamine represent his 19th and 20th failed drug tests, according to the Thoroughbred Rulings Database maintained by Jockey Club.

Baffert previously trained Triple Crown winners American Pharaoh and Justify and is widely considered one of the greatest trainers of all time.

What Banned Substance Was Found?

Charlatan and Gamine each had samples test positive for lidocaine, a numbing agent that is banned for its ability to mask lameness and allow an injured horse to race at full capacity.

It is considered a Class 2 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners, and it is permitted for limited use, provided the proper exemption forms are filed.

Lidocaine is a legitimate therapeutic drug, raising a question about Baffert’s intent. He claims that the failed tests are a misunderstanding, attributing them to a medicinal patch with traces of lidocaine worn by assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.

His long history of infractions complicates the matter, however. The 2018 Triple Crown winner, Justify, failed a drug test during the Santa Anita Derby, but was able to keep competing while the California Horse Racing Board completed its investigation. In the end, Justify won the coveted Triple Crown and the Board quietly dropped their inquiry in a closed-door meeting.

How Does This News Affect Future Racing Odds?

Charlatan is still rehabilitating from an injury suffered back in early June and withdrew from the Kentucky Derby field.

The failed test likely won’t affect Charlatan’s participation in future races, including Preakness Stakes scheduled for October 3. Gamine presents a more interesting case, as she is still scheduled to run in the Kentucky Oats—the filly equivalent of the Kentucky Derby—on September 4.

Right now, Gamine is a heavy betting favorite, and the announcement hasn’t drastically affected her racing odds.

Kentucky Oats 2020 Odds

  • Gamine +150
  • Swiss Skydiver +330
  • Finite +700
  • Shedaresthedevil +800
  • Speech +800
  • British Idiom +900
  • Donna Veloce +900
  • Tonalist’s Shape +900
  • Harvey’s Lil Goil +1400
  • Spice Is Nice +1400

Gamine will undoubtedly be subject to more scrutiny prior to the Kentucky Oats, but will likely still be allowed to compete. Losing out on valuable training time with Baffert could impact her performance, however.