By Dan Ross
Last month, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) issued a complaint against trainer Richard Baltas alleging that between Apr. 15 and May 8 this year, 23 horses in his care had been administered on race-day a substance containing the plant extracts higenamine and paenol in violation of the board's rules.
A hearing on the complaint, originally scheduled for early and then possibly late July, is now set for Aug. 3 with the Del Mar stewards beginning at 9 a.m., according to CHRB spokesperson, Mike Marten, in an email Friday afternoon.
In that same email, the CHRB wrote that Baltas–whose license remains active pending the hearing–had attempted to enter horses during the daytime Thoroughbred meet at Los Alamitos, but that the stewards denied those entries on June 28.
That meet runs June 25 through July 10.
The stewards' decision was based on two CHRB rules, one for good cause and the second giving stewards' discretion over entries and declarations, wrote Marten.
“All entries and declarations are under the supervision of the stewards, and they may, without notice, refuse the entries of any person or the transfer of any entries, and they may also, in their discretion, limit entries by providing that no horse shall be listed for more than one race in any one day,” CHRB Rule 1580 states.
According to Marten, Baltas has appealed that decision by the stewards, with an appeal hearing not yet scheduled.
The TDN reached out to Baltas by text but did not receive a response before publication.
According to the original complaint, surveillance video at Santa Anita caught Baltas' employees allegedly administering the substance to the horses on the days they were entered to race.
In California, trainers face tight restrictions about what medications and supplements can be given to a horse within 48 and 24 hours of a race.
A subsequent analysis of the substance by the University of California, Davis, allegedly found the presence of higenamine and paenol, both of which are plant extracts.
According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Higenamine is a chemical found in a variety of plants, and can act as an anti-asthmatic to open up airways.
Higenamine is also becoming more commonly found in dietary supplements for human athletes, as per USADA's website.
A CHRB investigation was triggered on May 8, when the Baltas-trained Noble perfection was a late scratch from the 10th race at Santa Anita.
At the same time, 1/ST Racing, which operates Santa Anita, banned the trainer from running and working horses at 1/ST-owned facilities. On May 7, the Baltas-trained Speedcuber suffered a sesamoid injury, and was euthanized two-days later.
Baltas had no runners at Santa Anita between 1/ST's announcement and the end of the meet, on June 19.