By Dan Ross
Between April 15 and May 8 this year, 23 horses trained by Richard Baltas were allegedly administered a substance on race-day in violation of the California Horse Racing Board's (CHRB) rules, according to a complaint dated Tuesday, June 21.
The complaint states that surveillance video caught Baltas's employees allegedly administering the substance 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 hours of a race.
Baltas has been ordered to appear at a hearing at Los Alamitos before the board of stewards on July 1.
“Between the dates of 4/15/2022 to 5/8/2022, 23 horses trained by RICHARD BALTAS were administered a substance on days they were entered into races. Surveillance video captured all administrations by employees of BALTAS's barn. The substance was analyzed by University of California, Davis, who reported the presence of Higenamine and Paenol,” the complaint states.
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.
According to USADA, higenamine is becoming more commonly found in dietary supplements for athletes. Paenol is also a plant extract.
Neither are specifically classified by the Association for Racetrack Commissioners International (ARCI) uniform classification guidelines.
TDN reached out to both the CHRB and to Baltas's attorney, Darrell Vienna. Both declined to comment on an open investigation.
A CHRB investigation had been ongoing since 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. Two days later, Speedcuber was euthanized.
“We are conducting an investigation into matters concerning trainer Richard Baltas,” 1/ST CEO, Aidan Butler, explained via text message at the time. “Pending completion of that investigation and any final decision based on the results, horses trained by Mr. Baltas are not permitted to enter races at 1/ST Racing venues nor engage in timed works.”
1/ST's prohibition currently remains in place.
According to the complaint, Baltas has similarly been charged with violating rule 1887 (a)—the absolute insurer rule—a total of 23 times.
“The trainer is the absolute insurer of and responsible for the condition of the horses entered in a race, regardless of the acts of third parties, except as otherwise provided in this article. If the chemical or other analysis of urine or blood test samples or other tests, prove positive showing the presence of any prohibited drug substance defined in Rule 1843.1 of this division, the trainer of the horse may be fined, his/her license suspended or revoked, or be ruled off,” the rule states.
“In addition, the owner of the horse, foreman in charge of the horse, groom, and any other person shown to have had the care or attendance of the horse, may be fined, his/her license suspended, revoked, or be ruled off. The owner of a ship-in horse is the joint-absolute insurer of and is equally responsible for the condition of the horse entered in a race,” the rule adds.
Baltas likely faces a potential suspension or fine. In July of 2019, trainer Bill Morey received a 45-day suspension after two horses in his Santa Anita stable were illegally administered a supplement on race-day.