Did you know that a picogram is a trillionth of a gram? It’s hardly a molecule. However, if you put eleven of these together, they can distort Bob Baffert’s career and accelerate the unstoppable decline of horse racing.
Baffert trained Medina Spirit to win the Kentucky Derby on May 1st. It was his seventh Derby winner, a record, and NBC viewership increased 49 percent from last September’s Derby, won by Authentic and also coached by Baffert.
On Saturday, Baffert drove to the Louisville Airport, and Medina Spirit was ready to take a van to Baltimore, the home of Preakness, in six days.
Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s assistant, called him on the way. « I have terrible news, » Barnes told him.
Medina Spirit had 21 picograms of betamethazone in its system. The limit is 10. Betamethazone is a corticosteroid used to stop inflammation, much like a shot you might get for the runner’s knee.
Baffert asked for another sample. This result is unlikely to arrive until preakness. So expect a week of hysteria on social media and in the Pimlico barns.
Medina Spirit and Concert Tour, also trained by Baffert, should be Preakness favorites. Mandaloun, who would inherit the Derby win if Medina Spirit were disqualified, is not running.
Just in case Preakness has postponed their draw from Monday to late Tuesday afternoon.
Churchill Downs then suspended Baffert, a meaningless gesture because Baffert no longer has horses there.
Not since Dancers Image in 1968 was a Derby winner stripped for drugs. Baffert is by far the most visible and fleeting rider. If someone is looking to cut their portfolio from horse racing to track and field, cornhole and pickleball, shutting down Baffert is the safest way.
Baffert didn’t hide from the cameras in Churchill Downs on Sunday. He collected them. He stood in front of his barn and spoke for 25 minutes.
« Although this drug is legal, we didn’t give it to him, » said Baffert. « I got the biggest blow in the race for something I didn’t do. It’s an injustice for the horse. I’m not embarrassed, but I feel uncomfortable. That’s not right. »
Not that anyone still believes in the curious concept of innocence before guilt, but Baffert is pre-judged on previous actions.
Filly Gamine tested positive for the same drug in Kentucky Oaks last year after finishing third. She was disqualified and Baffert was fined $ 1,500.
Mernieth tested positive for dextorphan in Del Mar last July. Baffert’s appeal against this ruling is still ongoing.
Both Gamine and Charlatan tested positive for lidocaine a year ago at Oaklawn Park, Arkansas, and Baffert was suspended. That suspension was lifted shortly before this year’s Arkansas Derby after Baffert and attorney Craig Robertson alleged that Barnes, who is wearing a pain patch for an old pelvic injury, may have accidentally transferred lidocaine to the horses.
« I don’t believe in conspiracy therapy, » said Baffert, « and I know that not everyone is out to get me, but something is wrong. » There’s a problem in horse racing, but it’s not Bob Baffert. Why does this keep happening to me? »
Other trainers ask the same question, but not as non-profit. That is of course different. Break the rules in Arkansas and only the insiders will notice. Do it in Louisville and the world not only knows but snaps judgment right away. Baffert is already Lance Armstrong before the People’s Court.
« How do I assume? » Saffert said. “Is this the life I have to live? Do you win a race and worry about it a week later?
Churchill Downs suspends Bob Baffert after Kentucky Derby winning horse Medina Spirit fails the drug test
Santa Anita Horse Racing Consensus Consensus for Sunday May 9th
Santa Anita: Neige Blanche and Juan Hernandez win the Santa Barbara Stakes
Santa Anita Horse Racing Consensus Consensus for Saturday May 8th
Horse Racing Notes: Kentucky Derby averaged 14.5 million viewers
« I know I am the most studied coach, with millions of eyes on me. But I have no problem with that. We ask that you pull his hair (Medina Spirit) and check his DNA. He did Tested on April 18th, so let’s take another look. We’ve shown all of the veterinary records on Gamine and will do that again on this horse. And it’s all documented in California. Everyone knows what the horses are taking. »
Robertson has said that the acceptable limits are too restrictive and should not be measured at « picogram levels ». Here, too, other coaches have to adhere to these limits.
Time will tell if Baffert is guilty. Logic makes it unlikely. The Derby offers the most meticulous post-race tests. Baffert was called many things. Nobody is « stupid ». Why risk permanent shame for a Derby win when he already has six?
The answers are starting to catch up on this week’s questions picogram by picogram.
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