Split samples taken from Charlatan (Speightstown) and Gamine (Into Mischief) after wins on the Arkansas Derby Day card at Oaklawn Park May 2 confirmed positive results for the local numbing agent Lidocaine, according to a report in New York Times Monday evening. Both horses are trained by Bob Baffert. Charlatan was a six-length victor in a division of the GI Arkansas Derby, while Gamine won an allowance race on the card and has since gone on to a romping victory in the GI Acorn S.
A statement released by attorney Craig Robertson on behalf of Baffert Monday, said it was believed an employee had inadvertently exposed the two horses to Lidocaine while wearing a pain-relieving Salon Pas patch. The statement also noted the trace amounts of the drug would have had no impact on the performances of the two horses.
The Arkansas Racing Commission confirmed in late May that two horses from the Baffert barn had tested positive for an illegal substance and that the trainer had requested a split sample from each be tested.
Robertson’s complete statement released Monday follows.
Even though Lidocaine is a lawful, widely available therapeutic medication, it was never intentionally administered to either Gamine or Charlatan. When test results indicated that trace amounts of Lidocaine were found in both horses after their respective races on May 2, Bob Baffert and his team were shocked. Leading up to May 2, both horses were healthy and
worked hard to earn their victories that day.
After investigation, it is our belief that both Gamine and Charlatan were unknowingly and innocently exposed to Lidocaine by one of Bob’s employees. The employee previously
broke his pelvis and had been suffering from back pain over the two days leading up to May 2.
As a result, he wore a Salon Pas patch on his back that he personally applied. That brand of patch contains small amounts of Lidocaine. It is believed that Lidocaine from that patch was
innocently transferred from the employee’s hands to the horses through the application of tongue ties by the employee that was handling both horses leading up to May 2.
What I want to make clear are the following three points:
- This is a case of innocent exposure and not intentional administration.
- The levels of Lidocaine found in both Gamine and Charlatan that day were extremely small–185 picograms for Gamine (in race 7), and 46 picograms for Charlatan (in race 11). A picogram is a trillionth of a gram.
- It is our understanding that the trace amounts of Lidocaine found in both Gamine and Charlatan would not have had any effect on either horse–much less a performance-enhancing one. The extreme sensitivity of modern-day testing can now pick up trace levels of innocent contaminants that have no effect on a horse. This is an issue that regulators of horse racing need to account for and address.
Based on these facts, we intend on defending the cases involving Gamine and Charlatan before the Arkansas Racing Commission.