Two Baffert-trained horses tested positive for lidocaine. One had won the Arkansas Derby on May 2 ($300,000 prize). The other had won the Acorn Stakes at Belmont by 19 lengths in record time. Baffert, a trainer’s trainer has trained two Triple-Crown winners. Justify, the 2018 Triple-Crown winner, had tested positive to scopolamine following his win in the Santa Anita Derby. But, the closed hearing of the California Horse Racing Board concluded (after the Triple Crown results and after Justify was sold for breeding rights for $60 million) that environmental conditions, not intentional doping, caused the presence of scopolamine. There is a suit pending by the second-place winner in the Santa Anita Derby over the findings in the hearing on Justify. The suit contends the amount of scopolamine in Justify was too high to have come from feed or bedding.
At the hearing on Carlatan and Gamine, the two lidocaine-positive horses, Baffert and others argued that the horses were accidentally exposed to lidocaine by an assistant trainer had applied a medicinal patch to his own back, i.e., he used Salonpas, which transferred small amounts to the horses through the application of a tongue tie (keeps horses from getting their tongues over the bit — it is elastic wrapped around a horse’s tongue and then tied along the lower jaw). Following the hearing Baffert was suspended for 15 days and the first-place wins for the horses were taken back, along with the cash.
No wonder the horses want lidocaine — try tying your tongue down to your lower jaw. The explanations for the positive tests have begun to look like “dog ate my homework” stuff.