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:

“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:

“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 »

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

Thoroughbred Industry Organizations’ Statements On Current Crisis

Horses jump out the gate at Del Mar racetrack in California. Unattributed Google search result.

The Ray Paulick Report post entitled, “Thoroughbred Industry Organizations’ Statements On Current Crisis“, was published yesterday evening.

Mr. Paulick put it to horse racing stakeholders this way:

Paulick email: In recent weeks, I’ve been approached and contacted by numerous people whose livelihoods depend on the Thoroughbred industry, telling me they fear for the industry’s future, and asking me, “What is (fill in the name of the organization) doing to protect the racing industry?”

I throw that question to all of you individually, as leaders of national organizations: What is your organization doing in response to the crisis now facing this industry, one that demands that the industry and those in positions of authority do absolutely everything humanly possible to protect the health and welfare of horses? 

First of all, it’s too late to “do absolutely everything humanly possible to protect the health and welfare of horses”. The integrity of the American Thoroughbred racehorse has been totally compromised through generations of chemical interference and doping from the moment these horses are foaled. They cannot go back now and do a do-over. They are stuck with what they got.

Plus the other elephant in the room  — horse racing is addicted to doping. They are never, ever going to give it up. They don’t know how to train without doping.

Perhaps it would be fairer to say that constant doping is the only way at this point to keep horse racing going. It’s highly likely and probable that it’s impossible now to get a racehorse on the track to train or race without administering a long laundry list of drugs, probably daily.

If you decide to read their responses you will see how panicked they are, which in turn means you won’t be able to believe a damn thing they say. We weren’t going to anyway.

Slow curtain. The end.

29 U.S. Reps from California betray racehorses

Blinkered racehorse closeup. Photographer not specified.

H.R.1754 (the Horseracing Integrity Act) is a shockingly bad bill for racehorses and will change nothing except put a handful of horse racing’s drug kings in charge of racehorse doping across the entire U.S. instead of simply their own backyard.

Imagine a scenario such as this, someone like the totally unscrupulous Bob Baffert, who ranked at the top of every doping violation list we ever saw published, help making and overseeing the rules on racehorse drugging. It’s criminally stupid, and would mean continued if not heightened suffering and death for America’s racehorses.

We were checking the cosponsor list of H.R.1754 and discovered some startling support for this bill. 29 cosponsors from the State of California.

It appears that these U.S. Representatives signed onto this bill because they were lobbied to do so. No one could have taken the time to read it. Or if they did, they are either unscrupulous or perhaps even paid highly to support it.

Here are the 29 California cosponsors of H.R.1754:

1. Rep. Bera, Ami [D-CA-7]
2. Rep. Brownley, Julia [D-CA-26]
3. Rep. Calvert, Ken [R-CA-42]
4. Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24]
5. Rep. Cardenas, Tony [D-CA-29]*
6. Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27]
7. Rep. Cisneros, Gilbert Ray, Jr. [D-CA-39]
8. Rep. Cook, Paul [R-CA-8]*
9. Rep. Correa, J. Luis [D-CA-46]
10. Rep. Cox, T J [D-CA-21]
11. Rep. Davis, Susan A. [D-CA-53]
12. Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. [D-CA-18]
13. Rep. Gomez, Jimmy [D-CA-34]
14. Rep. Harder, Josh [D-CA-10]
15. Rep. Hunter, Duncan D. [R-CA-50]
16. Rep. Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17]
17. Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13]
18. Rep. Lowenthal, Alan S. [D-CA-47]
19. Rep. Matsui, Doris O. [D-CA-6]
20. Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]
21. Rep. Panetta, Jimmy [D-CA-20]
22. Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]
23. Rep. Rouda, Harley [D-CA-48]
24. Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille [D-CA-40]
25. Rep. Schiff, Adam B. [D-CA-28]*
26. Rep. Sherman, Brad [D-CA-30]
27. Rep. Speier, Jackie [D-CA-14]
28. Rep. Swalwell, Eric [D-CA-15]
29. Rep. Thompson, Mike [D-CA-5]

* = Originating Cosponsors | Source »

You can see why we must employ lobbyists to educate legislators on the validity of equine related legislation supposedly aimed at helping horses when sometimes they do quite the opposite. There is absolutely nothing good about H.R.1754 for racehorses. Remember too that this is for all racehorses, not just Thoroughbreds.

Calling all Californians

If you are a California resident, please check the list above to see if your U.S. Representative is on it.

If they are:

Contact them via email at the link provided at https://www.house.gov/representatives. Ask them to remove their cosponsorship of H.R.1754 at their earliest opportunity.

Tell them this bill is being marketed by horse racing lobbyists as a move forward in bringing an end to racehorse doping, however it is anything but. It will be business as usual — doping, cheating and killing racehorses — but under a national umbrella instead of a patchwork of independent state laws.

This following statement sums it up. Send the paragraph below as the reasoning for your request to remove cosponsorship, along with your own thoughts and ideas:

Dr. Sheila Lyons, DVM, the founder and director of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, writing about H.R. 1754 (The Horse Racing Integrity Act), warns of the following.

“This proposed legislation ultimately leaves the details of drug regulation in the control of members of the horseracing industry despite the reality that following decades of promises to regulate drugs effectively, it has failed to do so.”

*  *  *  *  *

If you wish to give a fuller objection, we recommend sending the following from Dr. Lyons’ report which also contains the above quote:

Dr. Sheila Lyons, DVM, the founder and director of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, writing about H.R. 1754 (The Horse Racing Integrity Act), warns of the following.

The Horseracing Integrity Act of 2019 seems to directly accomplish only two things:

1) It will create uniform rules and regulations regarding the use of drugs in racehorses amongst the states through the creation of a national regulatory structure imposed through a newly created nonprofit entity; and,

2) It will eliminate the administration of drugs on race day.

Unfortunately, neither of these changes will directly impact the common abuse of drugs used to mask injury and or enhance performance. This proposed legislation ultimately leaves the details of drug regulation in the control of members of the horseracing industry despite the reality that following decades of promises to regulate drugs effectively, it has failed to do so.

*  *  *  *  *

AUGUST RECESS

Traditionally, the U.S. House of Representatives recesses for the month of August. This is a time when Representatives return to their constituencies. You may like to type something up and drop it by your Representative’s office local to you. Or call.

There will be a skeleton crew in their Washington D.C. offices.

OUTRAGED IN CALIFORNIA

We discussed the number and nature of the 29 cosponsors with California racehorse advocates this past Friday in a highly strung meeting. They had no idea until we brought it to their attention. They are shocked. They are outraged. And more determined than ever to pursue a Referendum next year banning horse racing in the State of California. The Governor still supports it. Whatever the case, they will win. You can bet on it!

NOT A CALIFORNIAN?

See who has cosponsored H.R.1754 by State.  Is your U.S. Representative on it?

(1) If they are, contact them and ask them to immediately remove their cosponsorship and vote against this bill.

(2) If they are not on the list, contact them and tell them to oppose the Horseracing Integrity Act and vote against it. Step by step online instructions here on Tuesday’s Horse »

POPVOX

Even easier. With an email and password open up a free POPVOX account and weigh in and track legislation important to you. Search by bill number and take a stand. As quick and easy as that.

Check out our stand on active horse related legislation in Washington at The Horse Fund’s Stakeholders page on POPVOX.

HANDY LINKS

House.gov home »
Directory of Representatives »
California Representatives »
H.R.1754 Cosponsors by State »

Thank you everyone!

Suspected sea snail venom used on racehorses in Oz

Cone snail has some of the deadliest venom in the animal kingdom. Racing is harnessing it to use as a painkiller, it is reported.
The cone snail has some of the deadliest venom in the animal kingdom. Racing is harnessing snail venom to use as a painkiller on horses, it is reported.

It would never have occurred to us we would ever be writing about sea snail venom. But then we never thought we would be writing about frog juice. That’s horse racing! Full of cheaters, dopers and liars.

The Brisbane Times reports:

Caslon Quote Left BlackA deadly venom found in sea snails which can paralyse fish within a second has emerged as the latest chemical suspected to have infiltrated horse racing, with authorities scrambling to organise testing for the powerful painkiller.

Racing NSW and Racing Victoria integrity officials on Monday confirmed they had started screening for the mystery drug, which has subtypes known to be infinitely stronger than morphine.

It can also be extracted to be used for therapeutic purposes on humans in the form of the conotoxin-based Prialt.

Racing stewards have received intelligence that a form of sea snail venom has been imported into Australia and used to manage pain in horses suspected to have raced in both the thoroughbred and harness codes.”

Read more here if you feel the need »

Who knows what else they will find when they investigate this.

Now you see why we have no confidence in the Horse Racing Integrity Act pending before U.S. Congress. The cheaters will continue to cheat. Outwitting “the man” and not getting caught is all part of the game to them. How do you stop that? You stop horse racing.

Related Reading

Frog juice drug resurfaces at Louisiana racetracks, Feb. 12, 2017 »

Quarter horse trainer banned for 10 years for frog juice, Sep. 24, 2012 »

• The waxy monkey tree frog and drugging of racehorses, Jul. 15, 2012 »

Updated 4:50 pm EST