Champion trainer Bob Baffert during one of his visits in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archive

Dubai: Bob Baffert, America’s foremost thoroughbred racing trainer, has said he will fight the 15-day suspension imposed on his stable after two of his horses failed drug tests at Oakland Park on May 2.

Charlatan, who won a division of the Arkansas Derby and Gamine, a filly who won on the same card and later won a Grade One in record time, both tested positive for the drug lidocaine.

Lidocaine is used by veterinarians during lameness examinations to “block” or numb a horse’s limbs. It is also commonly found in ointments and analgesic treatments and patches to alleviate pain in humans.

Baffert has alluded to cross-contamination caused by an employee wearing a Salonpas pain-relief patch following a hip-surgery. The patch contains small amounts of lidocaine. “We are very disappointed in the stewards’ ruling and we will exercise our right to appeal,” attorney Craig Robertson III, who is representing the Hall of Fame handler, told www.bloodhorse.com.

“In this instance, we presented a compelling case of mitigating circumstances, including the following undisputed facts: This is a case of innocent exposure and not intentional administration. The trace levels of lidocaine found in both Charlatan and Gamine would have had no pharmacological effect, much less a performance-enhancing one, on either horse. Zero.

“As such, a suspension of Mr Baffert and a disqualification of either horse is completely unwarranted. We will pursue our legal rights until justice is obtained.” The ban is due to begin on August 1.

As a result of the findings, Baffert will be required to forfeit the purse money earned by Charlatan and Gamine, which amounts to $300,000 and $36,600, respectively.