When Charlatan won the first division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2nd at Oaklawn Park, there were a lot of eyeballs on the track that day due to sports fans looking for any live games or events they could see. The ratings were excellent, and Charlatan looked like a huge threat for the Triple Crown races winning with the second-fastest time in 25 years and by six lengths.
But the $300,000 purse might have been for naught, as multiple outlets are reporting Charlatan has tested positive for lidocaine, which is a banned substance in horse racing. Lidocaine helps numb a horse to pain, and thus its use is regulated.
Baffert responded to the Louisville Courier-Journal via prepared statement.
“The rules of the Arkansas Racing Commission mandate confidentiality concerning any investigation into an alleged rule violation until there is a written decision of the Stewards,” it read. “I am extremely disappointed that, in this instance, the Commission has not followed its own rules on confidentiality.
“I am hoping for an expedited investigation and look forward to being able to speak soon about any written decision of the Stewards, if and when it becomes necessary and I’m allowed to under the Commission’s confidentiality rules.”
This isn’t the first time Baffert has run afoul of the doping laws of thoroughbred racing. His 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify qualified for the Kentucky Derby by winning the Santa Anita Derby, but had actually failed a drug test after that race. Because it took so long for the California Horse Racing Board to respond, nothing was done about it and he went on to join the immortal horses of all time.
For a sport dealing with plenty of issues already, having another 3-year-old winner test positive could leave it with a black eye. We’ll see how the industry and the tracks respond ahead of the Belmont Stakes, the first Triple Crown race due to the Covid-19 adjusted schedule, set to take place on June 20th.