Just when we were happy to have horse racing back, news of failed drug tests pops back in the news.
Oaklawn Park officials confirmed Tuesday that two samples producing positive tests for a banned substance on Arkansas Derby day will be sent for confirmation at an independent lab.
Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal reported via an unnamed source that the positive tests belong to horses trained by Bob Baffert, whose horses Charlatan and Nadal won the two divisions of the Arkansas Derby on May 2.
According to the Courier-Journal, the positive tests include one but not both of the Arkansas Derby winners. Baffert trained one other runner on the Arkansas Derby day card -- Gamine, a 3-year-old filly who won an allowance race.
Arkansas state steward Bernie Hettel told Horse Racing Nation that no action will be taken until he receives results from the independent lab.
"I can't say anything until I get that back," Hettel said, "and then we'll proceed per rules from that point on."
A trainer informed of a positive test can request that a portion of the sample -- a split sample -- be sent to an independent lab for verification.
Baffert issued a statement criticizing the leak of information.
"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," Baffert said. "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."
Baffert has said that both Charlatan and Nadal are being pointed toward the Belmont Stakes, rescheduled for June 20 at a distance of 1 1/8 miles rather than the traditional 1 1/2 miles. Both colts are undefeated.
Baffert is a five-time winner of the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs.
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