The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Breeders’ Cup pre-entries will be released Wednesday morning and for the second all-time leading Breeders’ Cup trainer with 15 victories, along with two Triple Crown sweeps and six Kentucky Derbies, the highly visible Bob Baffert is much in the news these days.

But the stories are not pretty ones. Drug positives this year concerning several of Baffert’s high-profile horses, including a test result that became known last week, has put the Hall of Famer and the sport that’s trying to curry favor and seek redemption from the public on trial.

Two respected journalists; Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal, and Natalie Voss of Paulick Report, recently reported on disparate developments yet their reportage is inexorably linked:

Sullivan covered the Gamine/Kentucky Oaks positive, one that is awaiting the results from a split sample at a second laboratory. The betamethasone infraction was the only positive result from 89 horses tested after competing at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby weekend.

On the heels of the Kentucky Racing Commission’s positive findings Grade 1-winning Gamine, Voss revealed, according to an advance release of a California Horse Racing Board Report, that more than half of 256 Thyroxine prescriptions this year came from two unidentified barns.

Further revealed was that three veterinarians allegedly were responsible for writing 80 percent of those prescriptions, and that  new diagnostic standards for thyroxine use in California could be initiated after the CHRB report suggested that “some trainers are ignoring board warnings about overuse of thyroxine.”

Fans and bettors first became aware of the medication and its potential for abuse after an undercover video from a Steve Asmussen barn worker, operating as an undercover agent for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, infiltrated the Asmussen barn.

Hall of Famer Asmussen, who recently saddled his 9,000th career winner, is on track to become the winningest trainer in the history of Thoroughbred racing.

The surreptitious video came replete with audio of top assistant Scott Blasi’s explaining to the covert operative how thyroxine, intended as a hypothyroid therapeutic, works as a performance enhancer by artificially speeding up a horse’s metabolism.

Absent validated medical need, thyroxine has been abused when used as a dietary supplement. The drug gained national focus in 2013 when the CHRB investigated seven Thoroughbred sudden deaths over an 18-month period. All seven were trained by Baffert.

During the course of the investigation, Baffert revealed that all the horses in his care were administered thyroxine orally as a matter of routine, placing it in feed tubs in the manner one would add any other dietary supplement.

However, the tendency to use thyroxine as a supplement rather than therapeutically extends well beyond one or two barns. Reported Voss:

“The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and American Association of Equine Practitioners put out an advisory earlier this year emphasizing to trainers that thyroxine is a drug which should be given based on a medical diagnosis, not a wellness product to be distributed to the whole shedrow.”

But according to CHRB rules governing medication use, it is also stated that neither name of the horse nor the connections involved in an ongoing investigation may be revealed.

Gamine’s second positive of 2020 has drawn comments from several horsemen—a group normally loath to speaking on the record, one racetrack organization and, as one would expect, animal rights groups.

“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission should address the latest drug violations swiftly and harshly,” said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, “and should issue proper penalties immediately following its investigation. Without meaningful consequences… American horse racing will continue to suffer setbacks…”

Speaking for PETA, Vice President Kathy Guillermo told the Courier-Journal that “if the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission finds that Gamine was the victim of a medication abuse, it should take swift action to ensure Baffert never races in Kentucky again. The welfare of the horses, not the fame of the trainer, must be the first consideration.”

Said trainer Mick Ruis of the recent Baffert revelation, “the chickens are coming home to roost.”

Ruis’s Bolt d’Oro finished second to Justify in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby. Justify went to win that year’s Triple Crown for Baffert despite a Santa Anita Derby post-race positive, information that was withheld by the CHRB until after the Kentucky Derby.

Justify would not have made it into the Derby starting gate without 100 qualifying points earned for his Santa Anita Derby victory. The incident went unrecorded until the New York Times broke the story in 2019. Ruis is suing for the winner’s share of the purse.

Before the failed Oaks Day drug test could be traced conclusively to the Baffert barn, Churchill Downs, reported Sullivan, responded to an inquiry about the infraction with a statement “full of indignation and condemnation. It read in part:

“ ‘We have long advocated for strict regulations… Noncompliance is cheating and it jeopardizes the well-being of the horses and fairness in our sport. It cannot be tolerated…’ Churchill stood by that statement [made a month earlier] even though it casts thoroughbred racing’s most famous figure as a cheat.” [brackets mine]

Said Barry Irwin, owner-breeder of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom: “This whole thing points out that [racing] needs to rein this thing in… I think he thinks he’s gotten bigger than the game… Currently, most of my horses race in Europe. I’m sick and tired of running here in America against guys that cheat.”

Databases of the Association of Racing Commissioners International and the Jockey Club are incomplete but taken together show that Baffert has had at least 30 previous medication violations during his career involving a dozen different drugs, said the Courier-Journal.

In a subsequent story, Sullivan wrote: “However plausible, Baffert’s explanations might be more persuasive if they were less frequent. Gamine tested positive at Churchill Downs only four months after both she and Charlatan tested positive for lidocaine on Arkansas Derby Day, and less than a year after the New York Times revealed a positive test had been concealed…”

With the advent of Breeders’ Cup, there has been a heightened awareness of horseracing among sports fans on Twitter, arguably the sport’s most important social media platform.

In a liked retweet, @Joseph Lucibello wrote:

“Gamine, a three year old filly who has raced five times… FIVE … needed corticosteroid injection in August?

“Sad for her … and for our sport. What’s wrong with Thoroughbred physiology, training, and racing conditions if such a young and lightly-raced horse needs this?”

@Maxwins (in a retweet, from Two Gun Sid)

“Racing needs a drug positive task force – it can be modeled after VP Pence’s coronavirus task force. Meet every day for a while, then declare victory and quietly stop meeting.”

@Two Gun Sid

“Good luck with that Jorge … so sorry, I mean Jason… oops, sorry, I mean Bob.”

@Mary Ann in a liked @johnpricci retweet

“ICYMI: With another of his horses failing a drug test, trainer Bob Baffert will test thoroughbred racing’s commitment to reform.”

@Bens Bombs

“These violations by Bobby White Hair are putting the final nail in the racing industry, a friend that does not bet or follow racing asks me why don’t the racing officials just shut him down?”

Share on facebook
Facebook Share
Share on twitter
Twitter Share
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn Share
Share on email
Share on print

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

89 Responses

  1. Mark, that’s why it’s out there, one of those ICYMI posts. Fans and bettors should know the latest developments…

  2. John: Thanks for summing up the Baffert “problem”. As I wrote yesterday, WE, the betting public, have the absolute right to know what is going on with Baffert’s horses, especially the three that are going to run in the Classic. You brought up Masochistic yesterday. He should not have been permitted to run in the Sprint, but Ron Ellis nearly lost his business from that incident. However, it was an outlier, in what has been a mostly honorable career. Baffert gets chance after chance, attempts to blame everyone but Jack the Ripper for his misdeeds, and is still extolled by the racing industry. Its unjust and unfair. Nevertheless, the Baffert dossier is Exhibit A for why HISA is so long overdue. A National organization, compiling meaningful records, and imposing REAL discipline, is just a step in the right direction. A further step, as has been advocated by Pat Cummings, and the TIF, is complete transparency with respect to VET records. The entire industry, including bettors, breeders, buyers, and horsemen, would finally have all of the pertinent information that all of the not so ethical insiders have long possessed. It can’t happen soon enough!

  3. Fram,

    It passed the House, but everything gets roadblocked in the Senate. Hopefully sooner rather than later for HISA to become law.

  4. If the Stewards and protective Boards and Authorities of the racing industry do not possess the intestinal fortitude to enforce common sense regulation for the benefit and protection of all involved, I will simply enforce my own discipline this Breeders Cup by simply allowing a disciplined mindset and vowing not to wager on any BC race in which I see a possible perception of fraud I will treat as a non-wager. Just maybe if enough monies were retained from the wagering pools, just maybe someone will get the idea we are all collectively “We ARE MAD AS HELL, AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! Clean the sport of the rascals involved or just terminate it.

    Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame? In summation, for those who don’t quite get it, ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

    1. If the internet been around the olden days of the original and best of them all “Oscar”, either racings drug and or doping problem would have been gone, or racing would have disappeared ( glad that it didn’t) even with the cheating.

      1. Mark, hear you loud and clear. Do you know how difficult and frustrating it is to move the needle from this end? I too am glad it hasn’t disappeared but where there’s money–1% owners and breeders–in partnerships yet–are hard to beat with good intentions and the written word.

        Did you see where the CHRB concluded its Justify and Hopportunity investigations but a decision will be forthcoming in the future, not now. I’m thinking Christmas holiday season, when interest is at its lowest…

  5. Lucy, Shell, you’re preaching to the choir.

    Now that the Senate has fixed the Supreme Court, perhaps it can get around doing something for citizens, animals, and the industry they both support, which provides no small revenue stream to federal and state governments.

  6. John, Any news on why Shedaresthedevil is not entered in BC races. I checked both the F&M Sprint (Gamine) and Distaff (Valliance) and could not find her. She won KY Oaks so I figured she would be entered for BC. Thanks.

  7. If you ain’t cheating you’ re not trying to win, Greedy proverb, maybe followed by NE Patriots’ coach Balacheat,2018 Houston Astros. Also check MJ’ rules and Irad Ortiz’ s riding at the stretch.So what is New about a horse trainer cheating? The punishment rarely fits the crime,,,when they get caught. It also happens in life,religion,politics ,relationships and court houses. Nothing personal,it’s s all for the money and the “Juice” of doing it.

  8. Some error on the backend of Word Press is not catching all the Spam that’s getting through. I’m being vigilant as I can.

    I was told that Word Press is the easiest, most convenient way to post on the website and that’s true. But three individual IT people said that functionality with respect to correcting errors, making changes, is difficult and time-consuming.

    Tech is above my paygrade and I’m efforting to find a suitable replacement.

    Sorry for the inconvenience and I’m working in it, peddling fast as I can.

    It’s extremely disappointing and hurtful when lifelong friends leave you high and dry. (*** see below)

  9. ***In case other readers are wondering, the Spam posts referred to by Mal were deleted

    P.S. Having Word Press people look at back-end issue, mea culpa for Spam interference recently.

  10. Exhibiting all the class of an unflushed toilet, the offensive commentary rages on. Shame you don’t have your own board to piss off on. I take it within your mindset, the left also bucked up the post office as well. Wonder what’s worse, the impact of the damn covid test results or the damn mail in voters? Communist bastards all of them. After we lock up Biden, let’s take down Pricci and all the other lefties too. Where the hell is William Barr?

  11. T,

    That’s what people continue saying; we shall see. This situation is being treated like, to paraphrase, their attitude is build it and they will bet. The other thing you hear is doing “what’s best for the horse.”

  12. As a female Owner, Trainer and Breeder I have no chance at all due to the fixing of races to keep females down in this business. My horse was drugged in two graded races because of my sex. I have news for the good old boys in the horse business, you and Pharmacy Bob are going down and I will fight forever to accomplish this end. Good Luck to all the cheaters because you belong in a Federal prison and that is where you are all going. The Truth shall win out and Justice will be done!!!

  13. Hi Dear, are you genuinely visiting this web page daily,
    if so aftrer that you will definitely take nice knowledge.

    купити опель астра новий website опель астра седан

  14. Hey! I realize this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does building a well-established blog such as yours take a lot of work?
    I am brand new to running a blog however I do write in my diary everyday.

    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Appreciate it!

  15. Thanks for some other informative website. The place else could I am getting that kind of information written in such an ideal means?
    I have a challenge that I am just now running on, and I’ve been on the
    look out for such info.

  16. Normally I don’t learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do it!
    Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, very great

  17. It’s remarkable to go to see this website and reading the views of all colleagues regarding this article, while
    I am also eager of getting know-how.

  18. Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and
    tested to see if it can survive a 25 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is
    now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally
    off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  19. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was curious what all is needed to get
    setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% certain. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Appreciate it

  20. I truly love your website.. Very nice colors & theme.
    Did you make this website yourself? Please reply
    back as I’m looking to create my own site and want to learn where you got
    this from or what the theme is named. Kudos!

  21. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

  22. My brother recommended I may like this website. He was once entirely right.

    This post actually made my day. You can not believe just how a lot time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  23. เว็บ บาคาร่า น้องใหม่ให้ทุกท่านได้พบ ที่สมัครสมาชิกง่าย ได้เงินจริง ถ้าท่านเล่นได้ พบโปรโมชั่นพิเศษอยู่ตลอดเวลา แตกง่าย แตกเท่าไหร่ก็จ่ายให้ทุกท่าน
    สามารถใช้บริการได้ทุกเครือคร่าย และมือถือไม่ว่าจะเป็น
    Android, iOS, iPad, iPhone ทุกรุ่น พบกับ Slot, G2GBET และ ซื้อฟรีสปิน ที่พบไม่ได้จากเว็บไซต์ไหน พบกับเราที่นี่ทีเดียว
    ซื้อฟรีสปิน ก็แจ่ม

  24. I was very happy to find this web site. I want to to thank
    you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely loved
    every little bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new information on your blog.

  25. What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It
    positively helpful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to
    give a contribution & aid other users like its aided me.
    Good job.

  26. Wow, superb blog structure! How long have you ever been running
    a blog for? you made running a blog glance easy. The whole look of your web site is
    excellent, as neatly as the Military Flight Suits content material!

    Thank you for taking the time to create this article. Very inspiring.

  27. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Firefox.

    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with
    web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon. Kudos

  28. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody
    else experiencing issues with your site. It appears as if some of
    the text on your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is
    happening to them as well? This might be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen before.

  29. I do agree with all the ideas you have introduced to your post.
    They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too
    brief for starters. Could you please prolong them a bit
    from subsequent time? Thank you for the

  30. Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam
    remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

  31. We absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content available for you? I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome weblog!

  32. My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he’s tryiong
    none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on numerous
    websites for about a year and am anxious about
    switching to another platform. I have heard
    great things about Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?

    Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

  33. 먹튀사이트 검증사이트 먹튀폴리스입니다.
    먹튀폴리스는 신규는 물론 오픈된 먹튀사이트를 철저히 먹튀검증하여
    먹튀없는 시대를 만들어가고 있습니다.
    먹튀폴리스를 사랑하는 여러분의 많은 호응바랍니다.
    여러분의 충실한 먹튀검증 사이트가 되도록

  34. Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to look it over.
    I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this
    to my followers! Excellent blog and brilliant design and style.

  35. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation however
    I to find this matter to be actually one thing that I believe I would by no means understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely large for me. I’m looking forward on your subsequent put up, I’ll
    attempt to get the grasp of it!

    my webpage; CBD oil for dogs

  36. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get several emails
    with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

    Visit my web site; cbd oil for sleep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *