“When we get it, there will be no delaying tactics,” he said. “Anything we can expedite, we will do.”
Four days after Charlatan’s runaway victory in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby, the colt’s stallion rights were sold for an undisclosed sum to Hill ‘N’ Dale Farm. The colt missed the Belmont Stakes with an ankle injury, and Baffert has said he will miss the Kentucky Derby, as well. Charlatan may be able to come back in time for the Preakness on Oct. 3.
Justify, another horse trained by Baffert, failed a drug test after winning the Santa Anita Derby, nearly a month before the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Justify wound up sweeping the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes that year for the Triple Crown. The rule on the books when Justify failed the test required that the horse be disqualified, forfeiting both his prize money from the Santa Anita Derby and his entry into the Kentucky Derby.
California racing officials investigated the failed test for four months, allowing Justify to keep competing long enough to win the Triple Crown. In August, after Justify’s breeding rights had been sold for $60 million, the California Horse Racing Board — whose chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, had employed Baffert to train his horses — disposed of the inquiry during a rare closed-door session.
The board ruled that Justify’s positive test for the banned drug scopolamine had been the result of “environmental contamination,” not intentional doping. Baffert has denied any wrongdoing, but the quantity of the drug found in Justify suggested that it was present not because of contamination in his feed or his bedding but rather because of an effort to enhance performance, according to Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018.
Mick Ruis, the owner of the second-place horse in the Santa Anita Derby, is in litigation with California officials to have his colt Bolt d’Oro declared the winner and awarded the $600,000 first-place check.
In March, federal prosecutors announced the arrests of 27 people, including veterinarians and drug distributors, charging them in a series of indictments with doping racehorses and cheating the public. Among those charged was Jason Servis — who trained Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference.