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Bob Baffert - It's More Than Drugs



Back in July of 2020, I posted an article titled, “Mr. Baffert, Answers Please.”


That article laid out the history of this untouchable trainer, the obvious backwardness in the way his charges run against their breeding, and the ultimate sacrifice and demise of many of those colts. It is now close to one year later with five separate investigations into drug misuse by this trainer and yet, still, not one person within the horse racing industry has stood up and said ENOUGH.


Churchill Downs made an unprecedented and shocking move in banning Bob Baffert’s entries for a time and his colt, Medina Spirit, is now in jeopardy of losing his Derby Trophy. This move represents a major win for Horse Racing in that it brings to attention the obvious favoritism and “Look the Other Way” attitude bestowed upon the Baffert syndicate. The Kentucky Derby is the main event of the year, a race watched and wagered on around the world. The news traveled at the speed of light across continents and put the spotlight directly on where it needed to be for a very long time – directly illuminating the white hair of Bob Baffert.


It is quite possible that those with a microphone within this industry will now be forced to make commentary on that which has been so obvious to us little "peon" handicappers. They may say they had much to lose if they spoke before but quite frankly, I don't believe that even one of them had the capability of even seeing it in the first place. The pundits of the horse racing world who hold a solid job within this industry are as clueless as they come. From breeding aficionados, to sportswriters, to celebrity TVG stars, straight down to the casual once a year bettor, they have no clue as to the years of damage and its root cause. They remained silent due to their raw stupidity and blindness and this, in turn, allowed our sport to deteriorate to its present state.


With the focus and attention placed on the positive test with Baffert's colt, the other side of that blade remains silent. Medina Spirit needed that lead spot. The track was overly souped up which always favors Baffert’s overused playbook. Get the lead and skate to the finish line. Lost in the whirlwind of the drug allegations is the simple fact that Medina Spirit had never, in his previous 5 performance, ever been able to sustain his speed continually throughout the entire race. From 5.5f all the way up to 9f, Medina Spirit has always wound down at the tail end of his races. Asked for an additional furlong, somehow Medina Spirit finds the uncanny ability to sustain his normal faltering endurance. This is due to the overly manipulated speed bias of that surface, which of course, gets left unnoticed and silent in the news frenzy of the positive drug test.


The only entity who has taken a stand with Bob Baffert, Churchill Downs Inc., is also the same entity who should be answering to the state of their own race track on Derby Day. Yes, it did help Medina Spirit and Bob Baffert gain entrance into that Winner’s Circle but it also endangered 18 other colts in that gate. One only needs to remember the state of Santa Anita (Baffert’s home turf) to recognize the dangers of a souped up track and the deaths of 37 horses in 2019 alone. The unfair and grotesquely transparent state of the track surface at Santa Anita always benefitted Bob Baffert, who somehow managed to consistently train his horses for the lead flyer in spite of their breeding. The manipulation of that track surface played directly into Baffert’s playbook no matter the consequences to other horses, or jockeys or workout riders for that matter.


On the big stage during the 2019 Breeders Cup Classic at Santa Anita, Mongolian Groom broke down nearing the top of the stretch and had to be euthanized. It was newsworthy for a couple of days after the Classic and then never spoken of again. It is one thing to have the spotlight on the use of drugs being administered to these beautiful animals, it is yet another to finally address the track surface as well. That track surface is responsible for the deaths of so many horses and yet, it remains completely silenced. It is not just the drugs that need to be center stage, is it also the obvious manipulation of these tracks which surely endanger the lives of these animals (and jockeys) at the same pace, if not more.


You will not hear one racing pundit discuss the fact that every single solitary stamina horse fell to the bottom of the race results chart in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. You will not hear anything from Churchill Downs as to why that track was so souped up to favor speed horses while they sit perched in their high tower banning Baffert for drugging his horse. They enabled that horse to gain entry into that Winner’s Circle in the first place and then turn around and appear to be the saviors who are finally “taking a stand.”



How many colts and fillies need to perish and how many jockeys need to put their lives on the line on these souped up tracks?


Yes, Bob Baffert is finally getting called out for the obvious. The absurdity of excuses for the positive tests over the past year has finally caught up with him but that is only one side of the bigger picture. If one can somehow manipulate a horse’s true breeding with certain drugs that allows each and every one of them to grab that lead and the track surface allows them to thrive forward on that lead, then both items need to be addressed. It is not a coincidence that Bayern, American Pharoah, Justify, McKinzie, Authentic, Bodemiester, West Coast, Collected, Medina Spirit, etc. have all benefitted from the lead spot on these souped up tracks. The two go hand in hand. When those who pay top dollar to breed their mares with these so-called "Baffert super horses" come to realize that they are now owners of sprinters and milers, maybe then will the money making machine come to a halt.


In this year’s Kentucky Derby, every single colt who was bred with the true ability to tackle the distance through their inbred dominating stamina fell to the bottom. This was due 101% to the over stimulated speed favoring bias. Not only is this unfair to the trainers and connections of these well-bred superior colts, it is unduly unfair to those who wager on the race. It is unfair to the jockeys who risk harm by these souped up tracks. But most of all, it is unfair to the horse himself. How many do we need to watch get euthanized on the side of a track because the surface is against them?


While it is commendable that Churchill Downs is taking a stand against Bob Baffert and his obvious untouchable status, it would be even more admirable to ensure a safe and fair track surface in the future. The simple fact that nobody even speaks about the unmistakable and clearly evident manipulation of that track to the benefit of snakes like Bob Baffert, it would appear that Churchill Downs itself is also to blame. And most all of these tracks are right with it as well. Not one person ever questioned how the breeding of American Pharoah was able to sustain a wire to wire 12f win in the Belmont Stakes. Not one. Completely and totally blind and ignorant as to the manipulation of the track surface and God knows what else. Our sport has hit rock bottom at the hands of Bob Baffert, which has been left to simmer over the years, however, he is not the only culprit of unfairness. The obvious manipulation of the track surfaces is as big of an issue. If left silent as well, it will also sit percolating until it combusts. Exactly like that white-haired double-talker, Bob Baffert.


In addition to the positive drug tests over the past year with Baffert's money-makers and with the manipulation of the track surfaces which favor lead and forward runners, there is an obvious deafening silence concerning the untimely demise and destruction of his charges. Does anyone out there realize how quickly and prematurely his colts fall from grace? Does anyone see or even care that these "One in a Lifetime" beasts of the track are retired immediately or soon after their incredibly short journeys? Does anyone mention the name Arrogate or even ask why a horse as talented and as powerful as he was euthanized after an out of the blue "undetermined illness?" What was the undetermined illness that struck this talented beast who mysteriously fell to the ground unable to rise?


Crickets.


If the horse racing industry continues to turn a blind eye to excuses like Cough Syrup, Salon Pas Patches, Urine on hay, Jimson Weed, Cancel Culture, etc. and also continues to look the other way while these magnificent horses break down on these speed-manipulated tracks, then there is no hope for the future of the greatest sport in history. It is only through talented handicappers and those who are not afraid to speak when the obvious is staring them right in the face that real change and upgrades will be possible. It is through those who spend their money at the windows, those who ultimately keep this sport afloat are the only ones who can see to it that these shark multi-millionaires be stripped of their thrones.


This is a great start. Let's hope that there can only be more voices like this:



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79 Comments


Unknown member
Sep 10, 2021

Churchill has announced that no points will be awarded to a horse trained by a trainer who has been suspended from KD 2022. There's been speculation about this, guess they're clearing it up and saying you can't train and then transfer to a beard for the race.

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Unknown member
Sep 10, 2021

NYRA has charged Baffert and Vitali for engaging in conduct detrimental to racing and potentially dangerous to horses and jockeys. There is a hearing scheduled for late September. It looks like this was done in accordance with legal advice to ensure it would pass any due process tests. They have retired judges to conduct both hearings. If the hearing goes NYRA's way, they could bar him for an extended period of time, I would think.

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Unknown member
Jun 23, 2021

Baffert voted off the TOC in California. Jockey Club wants to appear as amicus in court hearing between Baffert and NYRA. NYRA's attorneys have agreed, Bafferts have not.

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Unknown member
Jun 19, 2021

New article in the Washington Post on Baffert which is damning. Check it out. If you can't find it on the site, do a search for Baffert and it will come up.

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Unknown member
Jun 02, 2021

Baffert suspended from Churchill for two years. Its a very good day.

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Unknown member
Jun 14, 2021
Replying to

He can't really appeal being barred from Churchill and Churchill-owned tracks. As a private enterprise owning private property, they have a right to limit access as they choose, especially as this is clearly stated in materials trainers sign off on before being allowed to race there. The New York tracks that have barred him are in the same position and should have no trouble enforcing that. Love the statement by Ed Martin, by the way.

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