Bob Baffert, Justify and the Chemical Triple Crown

Trainer Bob Baffert and Justify. Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images.

by VIVIAN FARRELL

Everyone who knows us knows we are no fans of Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert. He is a cheater, a liar and a doper.

I had written a dear colleague a day or so ago stating it is my opinion that when all is said and done, Baffert’s Triple Crown Winner, Justify, would go down in history with an asterisk by his name, marking that the horse had won during the Chemical Age, and his victory would count for little. The next day she wrote back saying, did you see this . . . . ?

“This” turned out to be Joe Drape’s The New York Times article, “Justify Failed a Drug Test Before Winning the Triple Crown”.

In it Drape states:Left Quotation Mark

“On June 9, 2018, a colt named Justify thundered home to the full-throated cheers of a capacity crowd to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes and claim horse racing’s Triple Crown, one of the most storied achievements in sports.

“It was the perfect ending to an improbable journey for a talented horse, his eclectic ownership group, and his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert.

“Only a few people, however, knew the secret that Baffert carried with him into the winner’s circle that day: Justify had failed a drug test weeks before the first race in the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby. That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed.”


“. . . . if the sport’s rules were followed.” But they don’t follow the rules, do they? And in the case of Justify’s doping prior to the Derby, documents reviewed by The New York Times show they did not enforce the rules in the case of Baffert and his horse.

Drape continues:Left Quotation Mark

“Instead of the failed drug test causing a speedy disqualification, the California Horse Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results. Then, instead of filing a public complaint as it usually does, the board made a series of decisions behind closed doors as it moved to drop the case and lighten the penalty for any horse found to have the banned substance that Justify tested positive for in its system.

“By then, Justify had become just the 13th Triple Crown winner in the last 100 years, and his owners had sold his breeding rights for $60 million.

“Only a handful of racing officials and people connected to Justify knew about the failed drug test, which occurred April 7, 2018, after Justify won the Santa Anita Derby. He tested positive for the drug scopolamine, a banned substance that veterinarians say can enhance performance, especially in the amount that was found in the horse.

“Justify was undefeated at the time, but he still needed to finish first or second in the Santa Anita Derby to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, on May 5. While the colt won at Santa Anita, the failed drug test would mean disqualification and forfeiture of both the prize money and the entry into the Kentucky Derby that came with the victory.”

“None of that happened, though.

“Test results, emails and internal memorandums in the Justify case show how California regulators waited nearly three weeks, until the Kentucky Derby was only nine days away, to notify Baffert that his Derby favorite had failed a doping test.”


The rest of the article talks about the actions the California Horse Racing Board took, or perhaps I should say didn’t take. Interestingly, “The chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, Chuck Winner, owns an interest in horses trained by Baffert. Two other board members employ trainers and jockeys they regulate.” It is an incestuous business.

Insofar as the drug itself, “Scopolamine cases have resulted in disqualifications, purse reimbursements, fines and suspensions over the decades.” Not it seems, however, if it is used by Bob Baffert.

Justify was “retired” almost immediately following the Triple Crown and shipped off to stud. What about Justify’s Triple Crown? Bring on the asterisk.

In the meantime. . . .

Horse racing is gambled on. Horse doping is race fixing. How this so called “sport” is still running is criminal in every sense of the word in my view and should be banned from being gambled on, which would sink the industry. More on that in another post.

SOURCE

Justify Failed a Drug Test Before Winning the Triple Crown”, by Joe Drape, The New York Times, 11 Sept 2019.

RELATED READING

Deadly to Horses: The Baffert Effect Part 1, by Jane Allin »
Deadly to Horses: The Baffert Effect Part 2, by Jane Allin »
Baffert horses big part of sudden death spike, by The Bloodhorse »
Horse Racing in America: A Spectacle of Liars, Dopers and Cheaters – Part 1, by Jane Allin »
Horse Racing in America: A Spectacle of Liars, Dopers and Cheaters – Part 2, by Jane Allin »

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Trainer Bob Baffert and Justify. Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images.

Horse Race Insider’s Note to Racing: No More Mixed Messages

We note a few quotes and write in response to a Horse Race Insider’s article, “Note to Racing: No More Mixed Messages.”

Quote: “Aside from seeing an occasional news broadcast, the public has little to no interest in the game.”

We Say: Because horse racing has little to no interest in the public. This is an insider’s game. Plus — and this may ultimately be the defining factor particularly in the current climate — the public do not want to watch racehorses being killed.

Quote: “None of the people that have signed on to support the HIA [Horseracing Integrity Act] race their stock without drugs, even though they openly oppose it. They do not want to lose the edge from supposedly non performance-enhancing medications. That in itself negates the claim that drugs regularly administered to racehorses are benign.”

We Say: Yes. Correct.

Quote: “It is easy to look good backing a bill with no chance of becoming law.”

We Say: Spot on.

QUOTE: “TJC’s [The Jockey Club] support of DOA [dead on arrival] HIA bill, and not the Racehorse Doping Ban Act of 2019, aka Udall-Wyden, or the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act 2019, makes it seem as if the stewards of racing are moving forward to improve the reputation and integrity of the sport, but not supporting Udall-Wyden and SAFE clearly shows it is a publicity ploy.

“HIA not only lacks the necessary support, it faces the opposition of the National Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Kentucky’s Senator Mitch McConnell, who acts on the wishes of Churchill Downs, and has no mechanism to fund itself.

“Supporting a bill that has no chance to become law is the perfect ploy to placate the public and the perceived enemy, animal rights groups.

“HIA not only places the same ineffectual industry leaders in a majority position on a board with government backing, it sets up the United States Anti-Doping Authority for a fall.

“Udall-Wyden and SAFE, which would both be beneficial to the sport are absent of TJC support. SAFE in particular because it outlaws horse slaughter in the US and prohibits the export of horses for slaughter in other countries.”

We Say: Exactly.

Here is where we part company with the Horse Race Insider article.

QUOTE: “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) causes death by blows to the head, yet the National Football League and the National Hockey league are not even remotely worried that society or politicians will banish Football or Ice Hockey.

“Thoroughbred horse racing’s leaders need to wake up to the fact that the industry isn’t an endangered species and get back to competing with sports betting, which is likely to have a much greater negative effect in the industry than horse deaths.

“In one year, the narrative has changed from how to grow the sport to how to save it. The issues of growth have not changed, nor has the chance horse racing will be banished.

“The time has come to take the reins and drive the sport into the future, not shrink from the actions of animal rights activists.”

We Say: The quote in the article that breaks the bank is this, “Thoroughbred horseracing’s leaders need to wake up to the fact that the industry isn’t an endangered species and get back to competing with sports betting, which is likely to have a much greater negative effect in the industry than horse deaths.” More than horse deaths? How do you think horse racing got into its current jam then?

As regards the horses, racehorses aren’t recruited. They don’t sign multi million contracts to train and compete. Neither do they volunteer their services. They are purposely bred, created, not for themselves — but to be hideously used and disposed of by a cruel industry whose concern for their welfare has become virtually non existent. 

Please folks whatever you do, do not try to respond with comments about how much owners and trainers “love” their horses. If so, then their love is the kiss of death. Added to that, they wouldn’t be in this business at all if they gave a flying you know what about the racehorse.

As a sidenote, we are not picking on Horse Race Insider here. We are simply using its article as an example of how a majority, if not all, of horse racing thinks.

As you can see, many in horse racing are still making piously bankrupt remarks about reform, and turning around and contradicting themselves just a few days later. It’s bedlam trying to follow it all. Horse Race Insider just happened to gift us with what we needed all in one place, that’s all.

What it appears in actuality is all that American horse racing truly wants is for the bad publicity, outside interference, proposed federal oversight, anti-doping legislation, suggestions of an independent Commissioner — and oh, yes, those annoying day-to-day racetrack death watches and protests — to go far, far away so they can go back to what they do undisturbed and unperturbed. Who can blame them — if you are of that ilk.

However, that means the continued drugging, abuse and killing of racehorses. Why would anyone who enjoys a flutter want to gamble on such a thing? How can the rest of us turn a blind eye?
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Read full article here »

Gas Gangrene in Thoroughbred racehorses

The label reads, "Banamine Injectable Solution in as anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Used in horses for the alleviation of inflammation and pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders and for the alleviation of visceral pain associated with colic. Each ml of Banamine Injectable Solution contains flunixin meglumine equivalent to 50 mg flunixin.

We had a post in the pipeline regarding gas gangrene in racehorses. It just so happens the Ray Paulick Report has written about it too.

One drug that causes gas gangrene and regularly given to racehorses is the drug Banamine®.

The Paulick Report post entitled ‘Gas Gangrene’ An Equine Emergency, begins the article describing this serious, life threatening side effects of this type of drug.

Caslon Quote Left BlackA rare-but-serious bacterial infection, clostridial myositis, causes inflammation, muscle death and the release of toxins into a horse’s bloodstream. Prompt intervention with aggressive antibiotic treatment and wound debridement is key to a horse’s survival.

Also called gas gangrene, myonecrosis or malignant edema, it occurs most often in horses that have received an injection in their muscle. Affected horses will have swelling, heat and pain surrounding the injection site within 6 to 72 hours; the disease progresses swiftly and a horse’s condition may decline rapidly. Death may occur.”

andCaslon Quote Left Black[Gas gangrene] has been reported following IM injections of vaccines, phenylbutazone, ivermectin, antihistamines, vitamins, prostaglandins, and most commonly, flunixin meglumine (Banamine). It is not fully understood how the spores penetrate the muscle, whether they arrive at the time of injection or if the bacteria are present in the intestine and brought to the muscle via the bloodstream.”

__________

What the article describes but doesn’t show you is an image of what the treatment for gas gangrene looks like, such as this one.

The Paulick Report continues:

Caslon Quote Left Black

Treatment involves creating large incisions into the muscle and fascia to expose the bacteria to oxygen and removing dead tissue. Horses should receive supportive care and are typically treated with high doses of penicillin and fluids.

Horses that survive the initial stages of the disease have a good prognosis, though the wounds that are made by the veterinarians to expose the bacteria to air may take months to heal completely.”

__________

“Horses that survive .  .  .  .”

This is just what American racehorse owners and trainers and their apologists are running around the country defending and asserting it is their every right to do. And how dare we, the bleeding heart public and animal rights extremists protest this and call them into question.

The most sickening quote of all from horse racing is constantly saying how much they love their horses. Totally. Nauseating.

This condition is drug induced. They know that this can happen. Yet they ask us to trust them — who support situations like this as “business as usual” and “their right to do” to an innocent animal totally dependent on them for their health, safety and welfare.

We can’t see American horseracing ever doing right by the racehorse.

How can we possibly accept there will ever be reform when it looks such a no hoper? What would that reform actually look like, how long would it last and how can we have even a glimmer of expectation it would actually be implemented?

It’s alright for us to fight, debate, report, and expose horse racing in an effort to make them clean up their act — or better yet simply go away — no matter how long it takes. We aren’t the ones being drugged, tortured and run to death on a racetrack. Whatever we decide, we need to do it quickly and comprehensively.

In the meantime, you the gambler is ultimately responsible. It’s all about “the handle”. That is what keeps horse racing alive. But you wring your hands and bemoan the fate of racehorses, like you really care. It looks to us that what you are truly worried about is that horse racing itself might actually come to an end. Why not admit it? How tragic it all is for the racehorse. It’s not like there is nothing else to bet on.

RELATED READING

The Chemical Horse

by JANE ALLIN

You can find Banamine® in Part 4.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction | Part 2: Historical Aspects | Part 3: The Inception of Drug Testing | Part 4: Drugs and Their Actions | Part 5: Policies and Tactics | Part 6: Class 3 Drugs — Performance Enhancing or Not? | Part 7: Class 4 Drugs — Harmless Therapeutics? | Part 8: The Unclassifieds | Part 9: The Call for Reform | Part 10: Who Rules?

4th horse killed at Del Mar

Blinkered racehorse closeup. Photographer not specified.

Fox News reports:

DEL MAR, Calif. — A 3-year-old racehorse was euthanized after a training injury in Del Mar, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club confirmed Monday.

The 3-year-old filly, Bri Bri, suffered a serious pelvis injury, officials said. They did not immediately clarify when the injury occurred.

“Del Mar has implemented a series of safety and welfare reforms over the last several racing seasons, including the creation of an independent five-member panel to review all entries,” the club said in a statement.

Which means what exactly, we ask.

She was the 4th horse killed in during Del Mar’s summer season.

On July 29, a three-year old filly broke down during training after a leg injury. Two horses were killed July 18 in a freak accident when a two-year old threw his rider and collided head-on with a three-year old, also during a morning workout.