Personal Attacks Don’t Solve Mystery of Baffert Horses

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Bob Baffert discusses Paynter's comeback with TVG Bob Baffert discusses Paynter's comeback with TVG

“My name’s Ray, and I’m an addict.”

I don’t know how many hundred times I’ve said that since I began going to 12-Step meetings in 2004, the year I spent 14 days at a rehabilitation hospital for a problem that was threatening my very life.

Over the nearly 10 years since then, I’ve discovered I’m in pretty good company. For the sake of not violating one of the 12 traditions of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous programs, I won’t say who some of them are, but it’s been publicly stated by such stalwarts of our sport as the late John A. Bell of Jonabell Farm, the late Joe Pons of Country Life Farm, Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stables, Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, and former Churchill Downs CEO Tom Meeker that we shared the same disease. To see what they did with their lives has served as a great inspiration to me and to many others who have fought personal demons.

Everyone in recovery from addiction or alcoholism has his or her own story. Not every one gets through without relapsing, and some can never sober up or clean up for any length of time. It is a serious and menacing disease and there’s nothing particularly funny about it.

That’s why I was surprised and disappointed to learn that trainer Bob Baffert took the occasion of Paynter’s comeback from near death last Friday to make a mean-spirited personal attack on me when he was interviewed on TVG following the 4-year-old Awesome Again colt’s impressive victory at Betfair Hollywood Park.

“Ray Paulick, if you’re watching this, Paynter says put that in your pipe and smoke it,” Baffert said in an obvious reference to the “Ray ‘Crack Pipe’ Pollock” nickname with which his good friend, Ed Musselman, publisher of Indian Charlie, has saddled me.

(Sidenote: While I readily admit to being in recovery for drug addiction it did not and never has involved a crack pipe. But as the Indian Charlie motto goes, Musselman never lets the truth get in the way of a good story.)

Baffert apparently is angry because I made a recent reference to a story the Paulick Report broke in April about the seven horses from his barn who died suddenly during a 17-month period from November 2011-March 2013. Baffert was unwilling to discuss it when I asked him about the California Horse Racing Board necropsy reports in April and instead issued a statement from a crisis management firm a few days later. Contrary to what Baffert alluded to, I was not pulling against Paynter in his comeback. I was amazed at the inner strength this horse must have to recover from colitis and laminitis following his victory in last year’s Grade 1 Haskell.

So now, rather than talking about the issue of the seven dead horses – one I’m sure he hopes will go away quietly – Baffert has lowered himself to the level of the Indian Charlie newsletter and made it very personal, and in this addict’s opinion, very inappropriate.

Sudden, unexplained deaths of so many horses from one barn, plus the mysterious illness that nearly took Paynter’s life, are serious matters. So is addiction and alcoholism. But one has nothing to do with the other.

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  • Charlie Weis

    Thanks Ray for sharing. Yes, the 12 Step Program that Bill W and Dr Bob started back in the 30′s has helped Millions to put the plug back in the Jug and to get honest in their day to day dealings with themselves & others. Owners, Trainers, Vets & others in the Thoroughbred Racing Business could learn a lot from the 12 Step Program & the daily honest sharing.
    Please keep up the good work & writing your articles about the Dishonesty & Drugs in Racing. Maybe one day soon, things will improve.
    Clearwater Charlie

  • kyle

    Call me naive, and a hater if you must, but I think trainers should be judged on their failures as well as their successes. Can anyone argue that seven dead horses is not a colossal failure? Ironic that this latest flare up revolves around Paynter’s return. I guess Baffert and his supporters get to put that one in the success category. All the good I guess is because of skilled horsemanship; the bad….the will of god apparently, out of a man’s control.

    • Tinky

      I’d argue that characterizing it as a “colossal failure” is a distortion that actually benefits Baffert. I say that because it implies that perhaps he actually is clueless about the cause of deaths, while the far more likely explanation is that he knowingly allowed a vet to use a “cutting-edge”, undetectable PED that resulted in unforeseen consequences.

      Circumstantially, seven dead horses in the care of one trainer over such a short span of time is extremely damning. The fact that no source has been isolated, and that even the labs have (apparently) been unable to find a common denominator, points out the above suggestion even more strongly.

      Baffert is fighting a PR battle at the moment, and unfortunately, Ray, who has done his job as a journalist better than any other in the industry, is under fire. Much like the current Edward Snowden affair, when those in power ferociously attack the messenger, it’s a sure bet that they have something to hide.

      • kyle

        Whatever the reasons – and I didn’t want to speculate, although one who assumes the worst does have astronomical odds and a non-response/cover-up/attack the messenger reaction to fuel their suspicions – it’s a failure at the most basic level. That is – to protect and nurture the health and well-being of the horses in his charge. I did not mean to suggest the possibility that he was clueless. I would have hoped my closing sentence would have made that clear.

        • Tinky

          You weren’t unclear, and I don’t disagree with your basic position. Bonds, Armstrong, and the long list of cheaters were certainly “failures” in a sense, as well. I find, however, that the word “failure” tends to imply an innocence that strikes me as dissonant in such cases.

      • bobjonestwo

        You’ve got that right, those with something to hide always try to go after the messenger with personal attacks. For the most part their actions are impossible to defend with facts, so they distract from the subject by smearing the messenger. Everyone was thrilled to see the heartwarming comeback of Paynter, but it was very classless to use the happy occasion for a personal attack. Shame on Baffert and shame on the entire horse racing industry for the never ending drug scandals that have plagued it for such a long time. Baseball allowed steroids to taint an entire era before instituting severe enough penalties to get it mostly under control. Racing needs to do the same, first offense is a six month ban, second offense is a year and third offense is a lifetime ban. It’s certainly not the only problem the industry faces, but it is one that needs to be seriously addressed now.

        • nu-fan

          Not only did Mr. Baffert’s attack show a lack of class but it also showed something else–his ego. He placed himself first in this situation. Instead of allowing this win by Paynter to be celebrated by his owner, jockey, and fans, Mr. Baffert intruded with his own self interests. If he wanted to argue his viewpoint, that was not the time. Very self-centered. Showed a lot about his own values and standards–and not in a good light. Told me a lot about his character.

          • Roisin

            Well said. Mr Baffert does not realize how ignorant he sounds. He does not deserve any credit for the recovery of Paynter or his comeback win. Paynter is one tough horse . Makes me wonder how Paynter, a young healthy colt, got so ill in the first place.

  • ryan driscoll

    Baffert can train a horse. Who cares? He has no class.

  • SteveG

    There’s no excuse for it. However, the way these things work, when someone dishes dirt like Bob Baffert did, it says far more about him than it does Ray Paulick.

    • Stanley inman

      So true, but let’s not forget our own complicity
      What the mob giveth (our willing adulation at bob’s past antics)
      It can taketh away (count the piling on here)
      Bob’s role: a reminder it’s who’s in the stall
      Not who’s outside it
      That deserves our admiration

      • SteveG

        If the sport embraced transparency, rather than being willfully opaque, especially in controversial matters, most of the extreme commentary & unsupported speculation would evaporate.

        • betterthannothing

          Exactly, racing can no longer shove its ugly stuff under the rug like when it controlled the press. Sadly, those most against transparency own, train and treat horses. Transparency is being painfully whipped into racing one blow at a time. Eventually, racing will have no other choice but offer all horses proper protection (surveillance, tracking, medication control, etc.) to prevent abuse and doping and transparent medical, drug and death (on and off track) records.

          • Roisin

            I hope you are right !

        • Stanley inman

          So true,
          Yet Horsemen view secrecy and deception a
          Competitive advantage; both Antithetical to transparency
          Thus privileging self-interest over long term best interest of sport.
          Self destructive behavior that is norm for profession.

          • Stanley inman

            Horsemen reps need to reinvent their organizations
            Raise professionalism; have apprenticeship programs
            Model correct behaviors; kick out dregs; make profession honorable
            Tear down hellhole dorms; charge dues like all successful labor organizations; be true leaders/go for transparency in all business matters.

          • Stanley inman

            Ever wonder why HBPA members don’t pay dues?
            Why their offices are on track property?
            Why tracks build nasty housing for migrant workforce?
            Why you never see horsemen advocating the profession for their kids?
            It all is connected to the fact that horsemen groups are not free independent labor organizations but are company unions under the thumb of tracks and owners who love low wage workers.

          • Stanley inman

            What does all this have to do with this article you ask?
            The business of racing is addicted to low wages;
            Low wages produce shame, guilt, secrecy, opaqueness
            At all levels of the business.
            The horse is the purest most unselfish part of the story.

          • Miss the magic

            The problem with the dorms is no matter how nice they are they will be trashed in six months. There are a lot of people earning less than the help at the track and they are not provided housing . I pay some of my grooms more than I made starting out with a college education. As far as racing’s addicted to low wages what about Wal-Mart, fast food, every department store, gas station, and many more.

          • RobinDean Hood

            Very well said!

          • RobinDean Hood

            You are completely clueless and misinformed!

  • bill w

    Ray Bob is the user he used you till you of no use to him and his next patsy is Steve Byk

    • Don Reed

      S.B. makes ESPN look like a sane environment.

  • Jack

    Baffert breaks down every good horse he has, most never make it to their 4th year, drugs, hard training are the cause, he’s a blow heart with no class, screw him Ray.

    • Knowitall

      That is a patently false and ignorant statement, Jack. Just because Baffert exhibits no class doesn’t mean you need to claim that his very fit horses break down when they don’t, or that you are unaware that most of his “good horses” go to stud or breeding stock sales by age 4 because they are so valuable by then,

      I bet you have heard of a gelding named Game On Dude, who is in his 6th year of life, and his 4th racing season with Baffert, right?

      • slvrblltday

        One shining example from how many millions of dollars of horseflesh that refreshes his barn each year does not a rule, trend nor proof of innocence in the case of seven dead make. We need and are entitled to knowing what’s really going on.

        • Knowitall

          Agreed, but what Jack wrote was patently false nonetheless.

          • Zaffiro

            That is true Jack. I know personally about those 7 horses and what Baffert has done to find the cause of deaths. A lot has been done that is not made public, not because of bad things occuring, but just not released. He does not discuss it because in reality the naysayers won’t care. I watched Paynter many, many times in his gallops and works. Bob never pushed him and let Paynter dictate just how much he could do. I know for a fact this not about money for him or the Zayats. I now own horses and am aware of how many aspects are really looked into carefully from many angles and not tolerated..The public is not fully aware as much as they think they are and make decisions without adequate information. And believe me I do not tolerate much when it comes to horses. I have owned other horses for many years.

          • Zaffiro

            Added info, I was in the Paynter’s winner circle and Bob left the accolades for the Zayats’ to have. He did not inject himself into any interviews to take credit at all. The Zayat’s pulled him in for interviews. He gives the credit to Paynter, not himself.

          • Zaffiro

            Original statement was to say “That is true Knowitall” not Jack!!

          • Knowitall

            True. But there was absolutely no excuse for what Bob chose to do in that moment. It was inappropriate on so many levels, that it is mind boggling that he could have such a lapse of judgement.

            (I will tell you this Zaf. Not everything is as it seems even when you are up close, either;-)

          • jetto

            Since you seem to be an insider Zaffiro- suggest to someone with resources that they look into HYPP in Quarter Horses that came down from TB blood for a possible cause of sudden death in race horses. I suggested it to Ray awhile back when he first wrote about the Baffert issue & he politely responded to me- but I doubt he has done any looking into it…it may not be a situation like we had in QH’s- but then again- since the problem horses came from TB lines- it may be something similarly hereditary….yeah I know- not as EXCITING as a trainer drugging horses for you ambulance chasers out there- but something that should be looked into…search on the Quarter Horse “Impressive” if you want more info….ugly disease took many of our best horses away from us- and yes they died suddenly…

          • Ann M. Adam

            ??? From my reading it traces TO the Quarter Horse sire Impressive so why do you insist on saying TB blood and TB lines?? Not saying it isn’t also connected with Thoroughbreds too but wondering about your insistence?

          • jetto

            Impressive was an appendix Quarter Horse- meaning he was half TB…Not “insisting” on my part- simply a fact.

          • Ann M. Adam

            Thanks ~ I now understand. Also, I should have thought farther and realized that QH came from TB & bred for specialty! I also wasn’t sure which Impressive was the one.

          • Knowitall

            It is hard not to wonder if it is use of medication in regard to the seven horses, and it is a definite fact of life in the information age that not coming forward with an explanation allows for a vacuum that will be filled with conjecture.

            Agree on Paynter. Well aware it isn’t about money or Paynter would be standing at stud already. He took his time as he does with most of his horses except for the spring of their 3 year old year, and frankly, he doesn’t push on so much with the ones that can’t make it to the Derby anymore, either.

            It is an unfortunate part of the polarized culture that we reside in now that too many people see life, political views, religion, and others as all good, or all bad, and fail to look at the continuum of human frailty, imperfection, and inherent hypocrisy that we all pass through.

      • Bubba

        Baffert didn’t get Game on Dude till his 5 th start. Maybe why he has lasted so long, he was given time to develop before he was sent to the west coast.

        • Knowitall

          Without looking it up, I believe Baffert owners bought GOD after he broke his maiden in 2nd start. And left him with trainer in FL for his next start before Baffert got him. But regardless, if you are going to try to suggest that Baffert hasn’t trained the GELDING well and kept him sound through four hard campaigns, then you might be a bubble short, Bubba.

          • Bubba

            Knowitall i guess doesn’t pertain to racehorses. Comments above were mentioning that the horses don’t make it to race at 4. That is mainly because of being drilled into the ground before they ever start and while racing early at 2. I am insinuating that maybe the fact that he didn’t have the chance to put GOD through his 2 year old routine is the reason that he is still running today. Might be too complex for some to understand.

          • Knowitall

            Yeah, right Bubba, because Game On Dude would then maintain form and soundness despite being drilled by Baffert for three plus years. The horse RACED THREE TIMES before he got him and when he was barely age three. You have no idea how the first trainer conditioned the gelding at age two. Baffert waits on plenty of his horses, too. And he trains plenty of them at age four. He managed War Emblem after he got him, aka Bag of Chips, and Bob didn’t put them there. He puts plenty of them away when they aren’t right, too. You mainly hear about the others because they make the classics, they win Gr. 1′s, they become multi million dollar breeding stock. He is a great horseman, spots them well, and his horses are super fit which actually prevents break downs as much as his hard drills cause wear and tear. His owners want ROI, and a sore multi-million dollar horse can still jump 100 mares, Bubba.

            FOCUS on the topic at hand. The question IS, IS he using medication or supplements, legal or otherwise, that have contributed to his success and consequently led to the lung and heart problems that it seems more of his horses face than other high profile trainer’s horses do? (The sideshow is the inverse class ratio Bob shows compared to his GOD.)

  • Andrew A.

    I hope everyone starts taking a second look at Baffert. This story isn’t over. Perception versus Reality aren’t even close.

    http://www.horseraceinsider.com/On-The-Line/comments/06172013-media-star-wars/

    Excerpt:

    In case you missed this recent item, there is a war of words in the
    Twittersphere between Bob Baffert and Ray Paulick, gentlemen who need no
    introduction to this audience. The issue was seven mysterious deaths of
    horses from Baffert’s barn within an 18-month period.

    • Knowitall

      Very interesting. Thanks for linking. And so very sad to see the amount of time that Baffert family and cohorts actually spend on defending him and trying to intimidate the press or any voice that disagrees with them.

      • Andrew A.

        This story is going to get bigger by the day. There will be more to come.

      • Don Reed

        This is beginning to look, sound and otherwise resemble Nixon (Baffert) trying to shut down the press in 1973-74.

        Personally, if I was told by TVG to F-off, I would consider it the greatest compliment I’d ever receive in my lifetime.

        • Red Rider

          Totally Vacuous Groupies

          • Don Reed

            There are, technically, no groupies attracted to the TVG staff members. At the very least, it is unimaginable.

          • Red Rider

            TVG = whores for “celebrity” trainers and owners.

    • swaps55

      Thanks. And it was irresponsible for TVG to withdraw an invitation to Paulick to give his side of the story.

      • Andrew A.

        Please keep up the comments. We need people like you to get involved in order to fix the problems in the industry.

      • Don Reed

        “TVG? We don’t need no stinkin’ TVG badge!”

    • Don Reed

      Andy: Thanks for the link. I was amused to read the opinion voiced by someone (these anonymous postings are hell on credibility) that Ray is “thin-skinned.”

      We could do a nice little mock movie here based on the Groundhog Day theme:

      Every morning you wake up on the backstretch and report to Bob. He screams he yells, he fires you.

      The next morning, you wake up, get out the door & report to Bob. He screams…

  • Cgriff

    Ray – it’s the old Johnnie Cochran tactic: Don’t look at the mountain of evidence in front of you – look over here where I’m waving this shiny new tricket at you! I have never thought Bob Baffert had an abundance of class in either his personal or public life – he’s a huckster who happens to have a knack with horses. But what really threw me about his comments after Painter’s victory was the effort he took (and believe me – he’s not so glib as to come up with that without having thought about it and tucked it away prior to that race) to malign you. But let’s be frank – Baffert LOVES good publicity and absolutely HATES bad. He has the thinnest skin in the business for someone who is loves to dish it out so regularly.

    If he took half the effort to look into the deaths of those seven animals that he put into getting just the right “gotcha” comment to use against the reporter who revealed the problem….well…maybe more horses in his care wouldn’t die under mysterious circumstances and maybe his reputation would be clear and it all would – as he hopes – just go away.

    Painter didn’t get healed by Baffert. The Zayats cared for and helped that colt come back. All Bob Baffert did was take the healed product and get it ready to race. He shouldn’t crow about his victory as if he personally nursed that colt back to life. He is misplacing the credit due the colt, the doctors and the owners and – not surprisingly – draping himself in the glory.

    As for his attack on you? As John Wayne said to Barbara Walters, “Don’t let the bastard get you down.” :)

    • sanmo65

      ummm…PAYNTER???

      • Cgriff

        OOPS! Sorry – that was just a plain old mispell – I can’t even blame autocorrect! My bad! Sorry, Paynter!

    • Knowitall

      This is about as right on as it gets in terms of Baffert persona. Especially the part about working so hard to come up with that line beforehand.

      But Baffert has given credit where it is due on PAYNTER (not Painter) recovery.

      • Cgriff

        That’s true – but his remark about Paulick inferred (at least how I read it) that Paynter’s success was somehow validation that his training practices are not causing horses’ deaths. “See – Paynter’s alive and winning and I train him” kind of inference. One horse surviving due to many people’s help does not remove the 7 who died for no explained reason. And Act of God only carries so far when you look at those numbers.

        • Knowitall

          OK but I didn’t infer that message nor do I suspect Baffert implied it. I heard him giving a lot of credit to the horse, the owners, and most of all to the vet that refused to put him down and nursed him through the darkest nights if his illness. The rest is just an embattled Baffert lashing out, and the heroic Paynter is sullied by Bob’s paper thin skin wrapped around a hollow ego dressed with the sauce of his truly immature nature.

          • Cgriff

            Knowitall – that last sentence is just a thing of beauty – well said and wonderfully written!

    • James D. Jimenez

      Hear, Hear!!!

    • Ann M. Adam

      I also want to tell you Johnny Cochran also could lose as he did in a civil case on which I sat on the jury. His redirection attempts were ineffective so: Stay strong and stay at it Ray!!!

  • Alistair Brown

    Excellent piece if writing Ray – well done! That you persist in your efforts to get to the bottom of all unanswered questions that bedevil our sport/industry is admirable – and, to ‘come out’ as you have done today is even more praiseworthy. I take my hat off to you!

    • John LeJeune

      Not ALL unanswered questions, but most. The News and Papers across the country, and in England (also article in the Blood Horse and Paulick Report) had write up’s on me supposedly setting up a race a few months ago, the day following the race. NO reporter ever asked me a thing about it.

  • RUFingKidding

    I knew there was a reason I liked you…congrats on your life

  • Rebekah Lane

    By addressing your addiction in public, Ray, you have made it clear that you have nothing to hide. (I am not saying that those who do not go public are hiding anything.) By addressing the almost inconceivable sudden deaths of seven horses in his care in less than 18 months only through a crisis management team, Baffert has made it clear he has plenty to hide. Keep on with your investigative reporting, and eventually the truth of these deaths will be known.

  • betterthannothing

    Baffert could man-up like you did and admit to his (hopefully past) “transgressions” but he won’t because he is all hat and no cattle.

    • Red Rider

      Big hat, no ranch.

  • Knowitall

    Ray, you have some of the thickest skin I have ever seen in my life, much less in this business. Admire you more than you know for your ability to rise above and maintain altitude.

    Baffert showing his true colors lately, and they aren’t pretty. Disappointing to those of us that have been fans or liked the man in the past. Aside from how hard it is to not wonder (and surmise) about the horse deaths, I was stunned when he took that contrived cheap shot at you in the interview after the race. First of all, it was so mean spirited and inappropriate, secondly, so classless from someone in his position in particular, and last but not least, such a crappy thing to do on Paynter and the Zayat’s day of redemption. I’d like to see Zayat take the horse away from him as just reward.

    If nothing else, Bob should have been smart enough to know this would blow back on him. So he must be losing his lucky touch, so to speak.

    • kyle

      Twenty-first century technology and the increased exposure and scrutiny that comes along with it has not been kind to Baffert. I think we were all fans once upon a time…when we saw and knew a lot less of him. For me things turned with his post race Big Cap inquiry antics. I lost all regard for him with his support of the takeout increase -”It all goes to the horses,” is how he disingenuously defended it. To put it kindly, he seems of a limited intellectual range and under duress seem to be fraying around the edges.

      • Don Reed

        He’s a horse busker from New Mexico. Such can be expected.

        • Knowitall

          He’s from Nogales, Arizona.

          • Don Reed

            My apologies to New Mexico, and I really mean that.

    • Don Reed

      “Baffert showing his true colors lately, and they aren’t pretty.”

      Direct hit.

      Bobby made a mistake. “Don’t quarrel with the guys who own the barrels of ink.”

      It’s as true today as it was way back when.

      • Knowitall

        That’s as true as it gets. Ray has a daily (hell, anytime) platform and Bob has nothing but winner circle interviews on TVG on mute, and at this rate, they are going to get fewer and far between. Plus Ray is smarter, savvier, understands human nature far better, and is taking the transparent high road while Baffert is in the ditch on the low road digging himself deeper.

        • Don Reed

          Perfectly stated.

          One other aspect of this should be mentioned. When a microphone’s in front of us, we have about two seconds to say something that, hopefully, is intelligent.

          On the other hand, when responding to an attack that came from someone who blurted out something vindictive while being interviewed, if we own the ink, then we have time to compose our thoughts and have the golden opportunity to THINK before writing something in response.

          How can the writer lose, in such a contest with such a naïve, childish speaker, who will never have the chance to edit his impulsive comments?

          That’s why it pays to own the ink.

  • Roger

    Ray Paulick,John Pricci and Bill Finley are the three journalists I read and respect with regards to horseracing.
    Bob Baffert…..Will Rogers once said, “People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.”

  • Jack

    Baffert inherited Game On Dude and had nothing to do with his early training, most of his horses go to breeding at 4 because their already done do his drug use and hard training methods, 7 horses don’t die on you in one year if your not drugging and we all know he is.

    • Knowitall

      Oh BS Jack. He bought him in March of his 3 year old year. Gets credit for picking him out as a prospect he could improve, and for maintaining his form despite very hard round the year training for FOUR years.

      Focus on the separate story of the sudden deaths and ask about drugs – who wouldn’t? But don’t toss out false opinion that only discredits you about his horses being “done.” Silver Charm and Real Quiet won Gr. 1′s at age 4. He babies and gets the most out of fragile creatures like Fast Bullet, he won two back to back BC Sprints with a 4 and 5 year old Midnight Lute. I could go on but I doubt there is enough space to list the obvious or convince you of it.

      • Tinky

        What’s ridiculous is picking out a single, top-class older runner in order to support your dubious contention that Baffert doesn’t regularly burn horses out.

        • Knowitall

          That’s why I cited others Tinkyman.
          Those of you who want to burn Baffert at the stake would be better off using the accelerant provided instead of thinking your misaimed piss will suffice.

          • Tinky

            First, you added a a few other examples AFTER I had made my post. More importantly, they are ANOMALIES.

            Baffert has trained thousands of horses, and you come up with a small handful of top-class runners to support your claim?

            Please.

          • Knowitall

            No I did not see your post first. I was only corresponding with Jack when I cited the others off the top of my head. They are not anomalies Tinky. Saying that can’t make it so. In fact, they are the norm for his “good horses.”

            But why don’t you help poor Jack out and cite all the break downs and burn outs? Let’s be real for just a moment – yes, he trains thousands over the years like many of the high profile trainers and many go by the wayside, down the ranks, to Mexico, and worse. I don’t defend that part, and I doubt they all find “good homes.”

            But Jack mentioned the “good horses” so why don’t you just lift your ax and grind it down to those since there are enough to take a sample? Please start listing all the break downs?

          • Knowitall

            I gather one of the break downs was named…Crickets?

          • Tinky

            That might be considered a clever reply if your argument weren’t so weak. If, as in your wild imagination, Baffert actually was good at developing older runners, it would be easy to see, as he would have examples of such horses racing every year. The fact that you struggle to name a handful over his two decade career tells readers all they need to know about the strength of your argument.

            Mott, McGaughey, Clement, Frankel, etc., have all successfully developed and trained older runners year after year after year. One need not struggle to come up with long lists of their successful older runners. To suggest that Baffert is somehow in the same category is a joke, and not worthy of any further discussion.

          • Knowitall

            Why, thanks Tink. I say go ask any one of those living trainers you cited to show you their Kentucky Derby trophy while explaining how the game works to you. It will be two less pieces of metal than Bob could let you reflect in. He is a young horse developer, hello? So is Pletcher, Lukas, and Zito in his day.

            They push ‘em, and toss ‘em. It’s where the money and prestige of the game is, classics, and valuable breeding prospects….doesn’t mean they can’t and haven’t trained older horses on – they all have. But their horses are often used up and if you know the horse’s name, most likely too valuable to risk with another season of racing or waiting on a minor injury to heal. If me citing a horse that has managed to be in the conversation for top older horse for three years running, two of Bob’s Derby winners, and a two time BC winner isn’t working for you, then why don’t you get back to me with that list of break downs?

        • Knowitall

          I will note little Tink, you are responding to my initial post here in this thread since Jack answers me in new threads…so obviously I didn’t see your post before I wrote the very one you replied to…

  • Bob Schuler

    Bravo and cudos to you Ray!

  • Don Reed

    “ ‘Ray Paulick, if you’re watching this, Paynter says put that in your pipe and smoke
    it,’ Baffert said…”

    Where did Courageous Bob find the backbone to speak for himself, however ignobly, instead of again resorting to the device of the common coward, hiring a PR firm to issue his statements?

    And so the wonderful image that Bob has cultivated for so long is crumbling away, much like the deplorable demise of the once-sterling reputation of Tiger Woods.

    It’s a shame when wit, which is a wonderful thing in itself, is valued only for the craven employment as a beard.

    • Don Reed

      I should add that since Barbara Walters is retiring (having overstayed her welcome for two decades, but My! What big paychecks!), her obvious successor – should he elect to get out of the business of training horses – would be Mr. Baffert.

      Plan B: TMZ.

    • Anne

      Paynter would have never said that, Bob. He has too much class and courage. Only a weak coward would say something like that.

      • Red Rider

        Paynter would say, “I wish I had a trainer who didn’t pump me full of dex”.

  • 1fdoos

    Ray, it was not necessary to share your addiction with the public so I applaud you for your honesty. A man is measured by his integrity, and I have tremendous respect for you. The remark was very inappropriate by Baffert. You
    know if several horses dropped dead for unexplained reasons and the
    trainer had a different name, there would be a lot more written about
    it, there would be more of an investigation, and public opinion in
    social media would not let up. I guess Baffert gets a pass. Too bad
    the horses didn’t receive the same treatment. Paynter is lucky to be
    alive, and Baffert’s comments are really that of a bully. I don’t know Mr. Baffert personally, but based upon the information I have including the seven unexplained deaths in his barn, I would not consider him as a trainer. However, I am only one person’s opinion and certainly my opinion would be considered meaningless by Mr. Baffert.
    a few seconds ago

  • Jack

    He breaks down a ton of young horses and he had nothing to do with acquiring Game On Dude, the horse was transferred to him from another trainer by the owners, how many good 3 year olds has he broken down this year or killed, a lot and his buddy Pegram with the TOC keeps covering for his buddy, he should have 24 hour scrutiny on his barn like Jackobson and Rodriguez in New York who when they can’t dope their % drops like a boulder in a lake.

    • Knowitall

      Well Jack, you clearly don’t know ____, or you might cite all these break downs and deaths of 3 year olds? He had everything to do with acquiring Game On Dude for his owners early in his 3 year old year, but that wouldn’t even be a point here if YOU could stay on subject and not wander off into the weeds, Jack. Complainers like you are your own worst enemy. Obscure and deflect. Bob must be taking lessons…

      • betterthannothing

        “Well Jack, you clearly don’t know ____, or you might cite all these break downs and deaths of 3 year olds?”

        Talented 3 year olds who died in 2010: Clutch Player (pneumonia), Tiz Chrome (break down), Tiny Woods (pneumonia).

        • Knowitall

          Well, other than that is 2010 and not Jack’s “this year”…I say to you…Exactly. Except, only ONE of those “broke down”. But the two with pneumonia (that you know of) makes you think, doesn’t it? Stay in your path. Don’t wander all over looking for a hole to go through when a Mike Smith trip will get you there;-)

          • Red Rider

            How many two year olds does BB get each year? How many are culled, shipped out, of unfit to race on? How many are still running as 3 and 4 yos; for BB or anyone?

          • Knowitall

            He gets as many as he wants;-) And just like any trainer aiming at classics (as I’ve already said) he is going to play a churn and burn game like Pletcher, Lukas, and a few wannabes. But he can also afford to back off the ones that don’t make the cut and need time, because he has so many.

  • FATMANSPEAKS

    I am proud that Ray has fested up to having a problem.
    Takes a Good Man to admit he is/was wrong.
    Which does not make BB a bad guy.
    However let’s accentuate the positive.

    • Red Rider

      “Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

  • Jack

    Seeing your great trainer Baffert is so good, I believe he had many many three year olds this year and guess what, he couldn’t keep them fit enough to run even one of them in the Derby

    • Knowitall

      Aside from recovering from my giggle over you now accusing Bob of not keeping them “fit”, and the obvious answer of how hard it is for any trainer to keep pressing a young 3 year old to the classics, I’d say it had as much to do with Baffert’s current trepidation of looking bad in the midst of this media and fan scrutiny-fest. Some of those 3 year olds – namely Code West and Power Broker – look pretty damn good after last out. I gather the nuance of the game escapes you on a regular basis, though.

  • Noelle

    What a classless thing to do – tarnishing Paynter’s hard won moment in the sun with a personal attack on a journalist. Paynter and the Zayats care of him should have been the whole story that day.

    Racing authorities should start looking for completely independent medical professionals capable of discovering what actually happened to Baffert’s and other horses whose deaths they are currently unable to explain.. To say they can’t do it with all the techniques available in the 21st century is not credible. If things are left as they are, it will be because they don’t want to know.

  • Ben van den Brink

    Ray, I think Bob Baffert has a much bigger problem than you, This will only shines more lights on medication use (abuse).

  • Guy Fleegman1

    Nice to see Roberto Bafferto showing his TRUE personality. He is NOT the person that he represents himself to be….well now he is…an arrogant narcissist that butchers more horses than almost any other trainer in horse racing history. The end.

    • betterthannothing

      “an arrogant narcissist that butchers more horses than almost any other trainer in horse racing history.”

      “Funny” how is only match also came from Quarter Horse racing.

      • betterthannothing

        his

  • Ann Maree

    When you are guilty, the best approach is to attack and try to belittle your accuser.

    • ASL

      Classic sign of a sociopath.

  • swiss305

    Maybe the deaths of the seven horses wouldn’t be such a mystery if Baffert would allow the vet records to be released. Last I heard he was refusing, but still fully determined to find out what on earth happened. He said he was as baffled as anyone. If he REALLY has no clue what happened to those horses and won’t cooperate in the investigation, his license should be yanked.

    • RayPaulick

      Vet records have been turned over to CHRB.

      • betterthannothing

        Better than nothing but there is no way to verify that those vet records are true and complete.

  • jojo

    Tripping over the elephant in the room. What is going on with that anyway? I still haven’t heard a logical explanation.

  • In tears

    Ray, it takes a strong person to damit their short comings. Staying sober is harder yet. A uncle in my family could never win the fight with the bottle. You deserve a big congrats.
    As far a Baffet goes I think everyone said it all. I use to trailer horses to tracks, talking to trainers no one has respect for him, they know. Enough said.

  • Stephanie

    Ray, not to make light of your addiction, but ‘put that in your pipe and smoke it’ is a well known saying. I’d say don’t take it so personally, but then again, I don’t know the whole deal between you and Baffert, and I’m not you.

    And then again, I’m so dumb, lots of times I don’t even realize it when someone’s talking down to me! (ignorance truly is bliss).

    I’m glad you’re looking into the deaths of these horses and hope you can get to the bottom of this and let us know what the heck’s going on. Keep on doing what you do.

    • Don Reed

      Usually, I would agree, but in this unique instance, Baffert is a unscrupulous
      opportunist who will seize upon such an opportunity to say something because he
      made his business to research the background of his opponents – it’s called
      “black ops.”

      What this man – with a brain that actually could have benefited mankind,
      but choose, instead, to use it to simply enrich himself – doesn’t have is the ability to
      control his tongue.

      And thus, as has been seen countless times, once spoken, they go right down
      the drain.

      • Stephanie

        That is too bad. I agree with everyone else Paynter’s return was no place for that kind of comment. Actually, there really is no place for that kind of comment. Before I became the ‘kinder, gentler Stephanie’, I would have just said **** you, bobo (well I was trying to write bob, but bobo came out, guess I’m not as kind as I thought).

        • Don Reed

          Hey, you retained your sense of humor. Kudos.

  • pesposito

    Bob Baffert has no class and has never had class. He is just after fame and fortune, regardless of the price to his horses. If one dies, there is another to replace it.

  • DebbieP

    Just consider the source…he’s just ignorant!!!!

  • swaps55

    Right. People who have no intellectual defense or counter argument just attack the messenger. By the way Ray, I wish you continued success in your honest and courageous steps to be a better person.

  • swaps55

    Todd Pletcher has around 500 or so horses in training, I understand. How many of his break down, for a comparison. Maybe stats should be kept for all trainers, listing all breakdowns and deaths from training and racing incidents. Then a pattern might emerge and trainers with higher percentages should allow investigation of all the legal supplements and additives they are using to try and boost performance. We see ads all the time in the Blood Horse, horse magazines and even our mailbox about legal concoctions to boost horse performance. The source of these deaths may not be something illegal, but something over the counter. Who can really say?

  • Herman’s Kennel

    Take it from the source Ray…..He is not the best person in the world, or the worst. As you know we are all human and all have flaws. Let the insult go but follow through on the story x0x00x from Maine

    • Don Reed

      We love Skowhegan! See you in August.

  • thevoiceoftruth69

    Can someone just ask Bob Baffert this question?
    Is it normal for 7 horses out of 100-150 who were in your barn over a year plus to keel over and die?

  • Richard C

    Juvenile bullies flee the scene and – when about a half-block away – start screaming junk….then finish the sprint home, slam the door and hide under the bed.

  • Convene

    People who throw mud unjustly at other people are usually ducking in case someone throws some at them! I haven’t read anything written by Ray on that subject that would be considered mudslinging. Congratulations Ray, by the way, on having the courage to stand up and own your problem. If more people did that, a lot of problems of many kinds would go away.

  • Convene

    Also – I thought the Zayats and the veterinary community actually did the things that cured Paynter, with monumental contributions from the horse himself. Or did I miss something?

    • Don Reed

      Bob The Wonder Vet gets all the credit.

      • Knowitall

        Actually he didn’t take credit. That is a meme that goes with the all-in Baffert bashing. You know, using a bulldozer to bury him when a shovel would do in this case. He gave the credit repeatedly to the vet, Dr. Laura Javsicas. And to the tough horse.

        Ray often plays fair (although weaving the Baffert story in with the New Mexico horse death was a reach), the rest of you should try to do the same. Baffert is in hot water, and seems to leave the red lined tap on, so no need to boil more or him, Don.

        • Don Reed

          Although I appreciate your diplomatic approach (I really do), in this instance, there’s no way that we can see anyone else other than Bob as the operator of the bulldozer.

  • johnnyknj

    Ray-
    You have racing’s most prized attribute – class. Your detractors? Usually not so much. I enjoy reading Indian Charlie, but he is a groveling apologist for the Establishment and any of it’s members who will give him the time of day. Stay the course.

  • Evelyn Waugh

    It’s a cliche, Mr. Paulick, but (I find it nevertheless) helpful: “One day at a time.”

  • Michael Infurna

    Sick of him and his media hogging wife!!

    • Don Reed

      Agreed, as for Bob, but she didn’t say anything to Ray, so let’s leave her out of this.

      • Knowitall

        She started the conflagration the night before w/ a drive-by tweet.

      • thevoiceoftruth69

        You don’t subscribe to twitter I guess. She was flaming Ray on twitter last week.

        • Don Reed

          I proudly do not “subscribe” to Twitter. It is of a generation that can’t use a dictionary, and worse, don’t understand why such a thing exists.

          • nu-fan

            Neither do I. Some believe that it diminishes communication skills. While written words are valuable, in communication, there is so much more to it such as facial expression, tone of voice, body language, etc. I wonder if we are raising a generation of youngsters (primarily) who will lack those communication skills. Too many, already, do not know how to write a simple thank you letter much less a complete sentence.

          • Don Reed

            NF: The worst side effect of all this is the never-ending pollution of the
            language & the sustained cadence of fake hipness (fraudulent sophistication).

            When telephones became available on a mass-produced basis, people used them. Period.

            They didn’t create a international religion featuring the brainwashed, endless chanting of the refrains, “dot.com!” & “streaming video!”
            while simultaneously zombie-walking on the sidewalks, with their eyes glued to a miniature screen saturated with ephemeral & useless information.

            To answer your main point, yes, I think that you’re correct.

            To be routinely antagonistic to human contact is a serious neurosis.

            That people now VOLUNTARILY inflict such damage upon themselves is a fantastic fact of our present lives.

            If offered as a science-fiction theme in the 1940s, the author would have been the target of universal derision & disbelief.

            But it happened.

          • Mister C

            Don, you always have good comments and I value them greatly. However, I must say that Twitter gets a bad rap for being anti-intellectual. The real beauty of Twitter is that you get to choose who and what to follow, and best of all you get linked to outstanding articles and writers you otherwise would miss.

          • Don Reed

            Thanks. We disagree on this, but I will say that I feel we agree on more than that which we, together, can’t reconcile.

          • RedShoesGirl

            it’s always sad when someone categorically refeuses trying to use something that has value for many people. myself included. there are more than just teens who can’t spell on twitter. i follow a variety of people including news anchors, political pundits and politicians. the lack of spelling can often be attributed to trying to get in a thought in 140 characters. so if pressed for space, one can write “U” instead of “you.”

            unwillingness to change shows a closed mind.

          • Don Reed

            I love having a closed mind. It is closed & irrevocably hostile to irrelevant chatter that distracts us and makes it impossible, among other things, for serious readers to discover the great books.

            One example would be “Berlin Diaries,” by the courageous Marie
            Vassiltchikov (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1985).

            Paying attention to Twitter is spending one’s time reading the unsolicited junk delivered each day in our mailboxes.

            That millions of people are addicted to this crap is a national tragedy.

          • Stanley inman

            Don, call me a twit (silly annoying person)
            But to twit is to taunt, a reproach
            Paying attention to # of follows? it’s a perfect
            Circular joke on those who go there
            bluebirds are pissed, refuse to sing anymore

          • Don Reed

            Stan, how true. From every angle, the word itself tells us all we need to know about the 3rd grade level of the activity.

            Actually, the entire affair is motivated by narcissism, which is always a juvenile and usually a fatal endeavor.

            “How many responses did I get today? Who’s paying attention to me? My opinion is the last word in the matter…”

            We used to send the washed up performers to Brandon, MO.

            Can we reserve the same ignominious fate for these moronic button stabbers?

          • RedShoesGirl

            since you don’t know twitter as you have admitted, you don’t know what is of value or what is not, right?

            it isn’t unsolicited junk but one person’s interest in another person’s thoughts – like ray’s. but since you have a closed mind you eliminate any hope for growth. like i said, i follow a variety of people, news, racing news, politicians, authors etc.

            i am surprised you are using a computer and reading a blog.

          • Don Reed

            I hate to say it, but I’m amazed that you know how to type.

            Let’s review this.

            I’m in a debate with a media zealot without the slightest hint of humor or awareness that in the past ten decades, going back to about 1800, previous versions of “twitter” have existed (listed below in roughly their chronological order of discovery and implementation):

            The Napoleonic-era semaphore system; telegraph/Morse code; the invention of printing presses enabling the mass production of newspapers; the telephone; electronic transmission of photographs between Europe and America;

            Radio systems, spawning entertainment empires when previously, none existed; television, entertainment empires, ditto; launching of satellites; space exploration making it possible for satellites to send pictures from light years away from earth to NASA; the invention of the Internet before it became a Ponzi scheme for the Facebook IPO; etc.

            And now, I have a message in my ear about what some minor league,, time-wasting invention called Twitter does, other than to enable fake journalists to make fools of themselves in the defense of their husbands.

            More junk mail. Which probably got off to a good start, in the penny gossip sheets of London, in 1800.

            Be well.

          • McGov

            LOL. Well Said. How connected does this world really NEED to be?

          • RedShoesGirl

            have to agree with you actually. but that is an individual choice i suppose.

          • Don Reed

            From today’s Telegraph (UK):

            “Surge in ‘digital dementia’ : Doctors in South Korea are reporting a surge in “digital dementia” among
            young people who have become so reliant on electronic devices that they can no
            longer remember everyday details like their phone numbers. ”
            Or their names.
            (06/25/13)

          • RedShoesGirl

            “I’m in a debate with a media zealot without the slightest hint of humor or awareness”

            well there you have it. when you have no knowledge of which you speak, you resort to petty assumptions and name calling. must be some kind of message in your ear that has made you respond so vehemently and learnedly. twitter looks to be in good company as far as vehicles of information dissemination.

            may i remind you, mr. paulick is a regular user of twitter? like i said, if you are so against one of the modern methods of communications, why are you reading a blog? just as in the twitter world there are some worth reading and some that are not.

            as for in a debate – that assumes one is capable of reasonable, informed discourse. you are not.

            enough from me. you are just background noise from this point.

          • nu-fan

            Wow, Don, you managed to set off quite a few comments about electronic devices–on a website devoted to horses and horseracing. Good for you. And, I am still pretty much in your corner on this. I see a parallel between this and pharmaceutical drugs. Used properly, they are wonderful and beneficial. But, when abused, they can be such a detriment. It reminded me of a recent discussion I was having with a senior HR manager with a large company. Recently, she was interviewing an applicant for a job as an engineer and, during the interview, he kept texting someone. Turned out that he wanted to let his buddy know that he was going to meet him for lunch. DURING A JOB INTERVIEW! And, this was an engineer with a degree from a well known college. That’s just one example of how technology and its electronic devices can be misused and abused but too many younger people have grown up with these devices and have become almost overly dependent on them. They may not be “using” those devices but, instead, being “used” by them. (By the way, the applicant didn’t get the job. Surprised? No.)

          • Don Reed

            “Almost overly dependent” is an understatement.

            The interview should have been shut down on the spot the second he started texting someone during it (!).

            Side Story: Long ago, in between jobs, I ended up making a few (very few) bucks helping out at a tiny little employment agency. The owner was a nice person in her late fifties, and what could go wrong with all this?

            The 2nd or 3rd day of the gig, her husband goes like Gandolfini. Obviously, she’s not coming in. And an interview that she had set up
            for a young lady at a company cross-town was in progress.

            Ring. A call from the irate company interviewer, who wanted to know why the candidate had reported for the interview while wearing sneakers, tie-dyed jeans, etc.

            Imagine the fun we could have had with this in 2013, with the sneakers, the tie-dies, the rings in the nose and the texting interruptions.

            (“Yes, but aside from all that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the interview?”)

  • Edie

    Having successfully won over a prescription drug addiction for the last 5 years and reading this, Bob Baffert went, in one article, from someone I liked and thought well of as a trainer, to a complete jerk who feels the need to attack people for his own gain. Imagine that courageous horse just battled back to victory after all he had been through so much, had is success reduced to being a platform for some idiot to make a self serving, and immature comment.

  • Bandit’s Mom

    Kudos to you,Mr. Ray Paulick. I bet,Jill will really be praying for you now! HA! Anyone thinking her twitter prayers were sincere,take off your rose colored glasses or stop smoking out of the BB pipe of PR smoozie woozie.

    If BB had said those things after one of my horses had just won,he’d be history.No class.

  • Barbara Wood.

    Totally inappropriate response. Wasn’t he the trainer who ditched Chantal?
    Since the heart attack, it appears he has become more sullen and morose. Maybe it’s time to hang it up and spend time with his family. This kind of behavior certainly won’t increase his fan base.

  • Big Red

    I use to be a Baffert fan however his larger than life ego has made him a real dope. I thought he changed a bit after his health scare but it’s clear he’s not counting his blessings. To make matters worse, he keeps involving his obnoxious wife in public matters that she has no business being in.
    Too bad, he could have been one of the class trainers like D. Wayne or Shug if only he and his wife kept their pie hole shut !

  • Don Reed

    Ray, you have been attacked by Nelson Muntz, of the Simpsons.

    • Red Rider

      “A world without string is chaos.”

      Rudolph Smuntz

      Mouse Hunt

  • Margaret

    The thing I find most amazing is his wife who took quick action when Bob had that heart attack in Dubai last year.

    But if Bob has nothing to hide maybe he should speak to what happened to those horses that died. If they died of a heart attack the necropsy will state so. Is he hiding something nefarious? Other than cobra venom or milkshakes nothing would really shock me. Well maybe frog juice.

    As for making cracks about people’s own demons lets play fair. EVERYONE has demons. Some are seen and many are not. We don’t need them rubbed in our faces.

    Ray congrats on almost 10 years sober. You are one of the lucky ones. Many don’t see 1 year. Don’t let anyone degrade the work it’s taken to get here.

    • RayPaulick

      Margaret, as is the case with many in the program, relapse is part of my story, so I am not going to take credit for something that isn’t true.

  • Anne

    Much easier for Baffert to attack others than to address the issue of his horses dropping dead. That is a question he wants nothing to do with. I will never believe that he doesnt know exactly what caused it. Hopefully he has made some changes to prevent this in the future. Still doesnt absolve him of blame for losing the ones he did. Childish tactic to attack Paulick. Just goes to show you must have gotten under his skin!

  • 4Bellwether666

    Can’t comment on Bob but do know Ray has some class…ty…

  • RedShoesGirl

    i think you stooped to the level of mr. baffert by taking your conflict publicly. the classier thing to do would have been to not reply to bob’s nasty comment and only report on the facts.

    re the dead horses, the facts will speak for themselves. baffert is obviously bothered by what you are writing, mr. paulick, so attacks you personally. time to let him hoist himself with his own petard.

    • Lost In The Fog

      I completely agree.

      Ray, if you consider yourself to be a journalist (maybe you don’t) then your response is a big mistake. A journalist NEVER allows the story to be about him or herself but rather keeps the focus on the real story, which in this case is the unexplained deaths of seven horses. You should have thicker skin than this if you’re going to keep pursuing controversial topics and shouldn’t be at all surprised if you are attacked by the subjects of those stories. That’s standard operating procedure.

      And finally, your personal revelations about your triumph over alcoholism (while admirable) have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the real story here, which again is the unexplained sudden deaths of seven horses from the Baffert barn.

      • NAFTA

        Normally I would agree with you. But Baffert took it to a different and higher level by personally attacking him with an inflammatory comment on national television. That kind of thing is going to elicit a response from just about any journalist in America given the venues they now have to respond.

        • Lost In The Fog

          Ray’s response to Baffert diminishes his own credibility and effectiveness to function as a serious journalist and investigative reporter. As a former journalist I’ve been there many times before so I’m not just blowing smoke (pun intended.) A journalist needs to have thicker skin than this if he or she is going to tackle tough issues involving powerful public figures. They will frequently fight back, make comments attacking and disparaging the messenger etc. but the correct response is no response at all other than to continue digging deeper into the guts of the actual story and writing about that.

          Engaging in a public tit-for-tat with those you are reporting about achieves absolutely nothing except further compromising any claim to objectivity that you may have as a reporter/journalist. That perception of objectivity is replaced by unnecessary questions about whether or not there is a personal axe to grind or something else in play regarding the interaction between the reporter and the subject of the reporting.

          • harrydoodle

            ok so ray had a problem .he admited it. baffert killed 7 and wont admit it . horse racing hall of shame baffert cibelli dutrow scooter davis wild bill davis steph beattie david wells i could go on and on

          • Knowitall

            You make generally good points about objective journalism, but in this day and circumstance, it does not apply. This is a blog called Paulick Report. It has editorials and reporting, often separate. Bob made it personal, not Ray. His skin is plenty thick. But he decided to clear up the controversy and innuendo about his past personal difficulty that Indian Charlie, and now the sport’s most famous trainer, drag out of the closet in an attempt to discredit him when he questions them or their pals.

            And now a few more people will know exactly what Bob was saying on national TV when it should have been about his damn horse and the owner that pays his bills.

          • NAFTA

            Yes, exactly–different times, different kind of site w/ editorial mixed in with straight reporting. Since Bob attacked him personally and not on the merits of what he simply reported, I do not think a response was unreasonable. It’s a tough call, and some may rightly disagree, but I don’t think you can label Ray’s response as a ‘mistake’ professionally. Things have changed.

          • nu-fan

            I agree with you–up to a point. I would imagine that most people viewing this incident did not have any background information (so the comment was meaningless) and would not have thought about it for more than a second before it was quickly forgotten. Could have just as easily ignored it. However, Ray’s comments were not made on national television, as were Mr. Baffert’s, but on his own website. Hard not to want to defend oneself–I would imagine–in this case.

        • Don Reed

          I agree with NAFTA. It is not in Ray’s character to try to manipulate an issue like this for his own gain. He responded to a personal attack and it should be (literally) unremarkable that he did and had the right to do so.

          • Lost In The Fog

            Don,

            I’m not accusing Ray of trying “to manipulate an issue like this for his own gain” nor am I questioning whether he has a right to respond. Of course he has that right if he so chooses, as does anyone. What I’m questioning is the potential damage done to his journalistic integrity in doing so.

            I respect Ray and the Paulick Report (that’s why I spend so much time here) but from a journalism ethics perspective he has made a mistake. In the end this is really about whether Ray sees himself as a serious journalist or not. Either way is fine but both ways doesn’t work. Pick one.

        • RedShoesGirl

          no, good journalists do not ever respond to attacks such as done by mr. baffert. we just don’t. but i can understand in the heat of the moment it would be easy to just let it rip.

      • RedShoesGirl

        exactly.

  • tommy the cat

    thank u john for this article….

    • Andrew A.

      Tommy, you got the websites mixed up. C’mon man.

  • Andrew A.

    1. What were the names of those horses Dubai Bob?

    2. Who were the “best experts in the world” who you hired to work on this and when were they hired? Can you produce receipts? How about some transparency Dubai Bob?

    3. Why wasn’t the FBI called in right away?

    Thanks and just asking,

    Andy

  • Joe Martin

    Ray, I have much respect for you. Drugs ? Alcohol? We all have some sort of things we shouldn’t abuse. But I bet you never abused horses. Can Baffert say that? He’s no
    horseman. Check his hands. I’ll bet any amount that he has no dirt or hay stains on his
    crummy hands. He has no class and he should be locked up for impersonating a horse
    trainer!

    • RayPaulick

      Sorry, but I disagree with you about Bob Baffert. He is an excellent horseman and has been around horses his entire life. Here is an article I wrote about his background some years ago.

      http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/9700/the-natural

      • Joe Martin

        I’ll never forget. A few yrs ago at Saratoga. Allen Jerkins & his wife were sitting directly in front of me and Tommy Luther. I saw Mr Jerkins hands and they were spiled with green hay stains. BB came by and stood right next to me. His hands were office clean and nails manicured. You have your opinions and so do I. Baffert is all Hollywood!

  • What a coincidence

    Bob Baffert and John Basset -aka (demorphins 10 years ban) went to college together and are close friends. You might look there.

  • John Harris

    Bob Baffert is a top trainer, and justifiably in the Hall
    of Fame. He is never at a loss for words and I think his sarcasm got the best
    of him when he made the negative, in appropriate remark about you.

    But the bigger issue is the needed transparency on vet
    records as they relate to horses that die at a track. That’s something I and others on the CHRB
    pushed that still haven’t quite gotten accomplished, due to opposition from
    horse groups like TOC and CTT. The
    purpose of transparency is not to reveal any smoking guns, but to establish
    trends and clues that may help equine health in general. No horse owner or trainer wants to see any
    horse in their care die prematurely.
    But sudden deaths, usually coronary related, such as the Baffert barn experienced, do
    occur. I have had a couple of them
    myself in the last few years. I was
    happy to turn over any records we had to help provide added insight . In my case there was no clear diagnosis, but
    I am glad they at least were playing with a full deck when the necropsy review
    was conducted.

    • HogHater

      BTW, how’s the transparent investigation of trainer Carla Gaines going? Complaints issued in September 2012, no rulings ten months later per my records.

  • Jay Stone

    The miracle of Paynter should never be involved in Baffert’s personal vendettas. He should be ashamed of himself to joke about a disease that affects millions at a time when the stage should only have included Paynter and the group that saved him. The Paynter story could grow into the one positive note that could help revive a dying sport.

  • Charles Mcginnes

    Ray, I did wonder why in the story about the quarter horse who died after winning the Ruidoso Futurity, you put the seven horses trained by Baffert that died over a period of years in the very first sentences of the first paragraph. Really, Baffert shouldn’t have been mentioned in that story at all,much less than in the first paragraph. For some reason, you dislike Baffert and/or don’t want to give him credit for all the good horses he has trained that HAVEN”T died, and have done wonderful things. What about Lookin’ at Lucky, who was a 2 y o champion, 3yo champion, survived 3 Triple Crown races and ran 3rd in the Breeders Cup against older horses.

    There is nothing mysterious about Paynter’s illness. Many horses get colitis, including those not racing, and many horses get abscessed colons. I have always thought the more mysterious aspect of the seven horses that died while in training with Baffert over a period of years is that I believe 5 of them were owned by Kaleem Shah, who would not have owned that great a percentage of the Baffert horses. Just something that might be looked into?

    This kind of back-biting serves no purpose for the game and reflects badly on both you and Baffert. In this instance, I do think you might have started it up again by mentioning Bob so prominently in the story about the Ruidoso death that had nothing to do with him. Why don’t you both call a truce…what you did with the Ruidoso story might be construed as a personal attack and he came back with one against you. Let’s leave it there.

    • Knowitall

      I agree. Ray should have and still should do an in-depth investigative stand alone piece or series on the Baffert deaths. The Baffert thread woven in the QH death story was a bit of a cheap shot. But it wasn’t a completely off the chart inappropriate, personal denigration of another man’s recovering addiction on national TV by the most current recognizable face in the HOF and delivered with purposeful malice and forethought in the immediate celebration of a courageous horse’s comeback. Hard to believe you don’t “get that”?

      • RayPaulick

        When a famous NFL player committed suicide, the NY Times and nearly other paper covering the tragedy went into some detail on other NFL players who had committed suicide. As a journalist, I see strong similarities in coverage of the two stories. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/sports/football/junior-seau-famed-nfl-linebacker-dies-at-43-in-apparent-suicide.html?_r=0

        I could have brought up the three horse deaths in Todd Pletcher’s barn at Saratoga in 2002, but those did not come suddenly after racing or training as the Baffert horses and Ruidoso Futurity winner had done. Plus they are more than 10 years in the past.

        • Knowitall

          True, and I appreciate your explanation Ray. But I genuinely think that the Baffert situation deserves top billing as THE STORY, and then you can make reference to any other trainer’s issues there, too. I am ALL FOR trainers being treated as fair game and not piling on just the one. And as much of a fan of Bob’s as I used to be, I never understood the pass that he was getting while DO and Babe took it on the chin, and I still think Pletcher and Asmussen have skated as well. At least Pletcher is professional at all times, though. (On 2002, I don’t think that was nefarious, either.)

          But if the broom is out, I say get all the dirt out of the corners.

      • Rob from the Az

        I agree that was such a low blow by Ray to mention Baffert in the story on the Quarter horse trainer and a weak reasoning why it was included!

      • Charles Mcginnes

        Actually, I didn’t even know that Ray was a recovering addict until he posted this story. Bob’s comment didn’t reveal that to me. The line, Put that in your pipe and smoke it, was just a normal throwaway line, often used on non-addicts!

        • Knowitall

          Not if you know Ray, and know Bob, and read Indian Charlie. But lets say you were correct in a parallel universe Charles. Bob spending one second of Paynter’s comeback race celebration addressing Ray Paulick and claiming that there were so many rooting AGAINST the horse when anyone watching TVG was moved by the performance is all. you.need.to.know. What I am amazed by is how BB didn’t spot this bounce;-)

  • Red Rider

    Paynter exhibited classic steroid poisoning symptoms. Ask Bob about his use of dexamethasone on horses, which does not require a pipe or smoking. Baffert and Zayat did not save Paynter. The vets at New Bolton were able to reverse the damage that Baffcorp caused in the zeal to win.

  • Jamie Coughlin

    When you account for about HALF the dropping dead horses in a short period of time you either have some ‘splaining to do or you need to hire a forensic team to find out why. It is more than bizarre, it’s downright freaky. And I’ve always liked Baffert and love his horses, esp. Paynter but come on Bob, something smells out there!

  • we’re watching

    Bob definitely speaks out off the top of his head sometimes. It was inappropriate and also shows his uncaring attitude to all of those with an addiction or even just a problem. Bob should let the public know what happened to those seven horses, and not hide it. Hopefully, he is not one of the supertrainers who hide behind their dirty secret. And that includes female trainers, and I’m sure there are more than one in NY racing. Let’s get this sport cleaned out and cleaned up. And legit.

  • Terri Z

    Ray do you remember the large number of Venezuelan polo ponies who died of cardiac arrest in Florida? The trainer had gone to a pharmacy in Ocala who had formulated something for them to rehydrate after Lasix; it was to be a substitute for something that was not available in the US.
    The pharmacy formulated too high a dose of potassium and the horses died of cardiac arrest. I think that information should be on line from the Miami Herald.
    It might be something to look into.

  • Jay Stone

    Ray, good all around job. You have created a firestorm of controversy on a story that covers many different issues. The ammount and Intensity of comments is very Interesting. Something that should be stressed is that every fatality that occurs at a track is logged so there is no lack of transparency when it comes to the Death of a racehorse.

    • RayPaulick

      Jay,

      Thank you, but not every state does a good job of recording information on deceased horses. California has an excellent program requiring necropsies of all horses that die in racing or training at California Horse Racing Board licensed facilities, and more states are doing the same. There was a comment on Twitter that California is far and away the best at transparency, but I am happy to see New York is moving in the right direction. Their Task Force report on the spike in deaths at Aqueduct in the winter of 2011-12 was excellent, and the publication of medication records before the biggest races is a step in the right direction. The Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainer have fought efforts for more transparency, even when it comes to the mandatory release of veterinary records for horses that die in racing or training.

      It pains me to say this, but California racing is sinking under the current leadership of the CHRB and TOC.

  • FastBernieB

    In horses and humans you either have “class” or you don’t. Not hard to figure where the class edge goes in this battle.

  • Zataar

    You started this thing by making Baffert the focus of an article about a quarter horse death in New Mexico and the trainer involved……then your feelings are hurt when Baffert makes an unnecessary comment in response? I commend you for battling your illness, but that is no execuse for you now to claim you are the victim or being bullied by Baffert!

    • Charles Mcginnes

      Couldn’t agree more with what you posted here

  • UnusualHeat

    Claimed a horse from Baffert in mid 2000s. Died of a heart attack breezing two weeks later

  • Jerry

    RAY:

    THANK YOU FOR EXPOSING BOB BAFFERT FOR WHAT HE IS. HIS COMMENTS ON TVG WERE CLEARLY INAPPROPRIATE BUT BAFFERT THINKS HE CAN DO ANYTHING HE WANTS!!

    HE SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDED BY THE CHRB FOR HIS TRAINING “ACCIDENTS” AND HORSES LIKE TWEEBSTER SHOULD NOT BE SACRIFICED FOR ANY REASON. LET’S HOPE PAYNTER DOES NOT EXPERIENCE THE SAME FATE!!

    JERRY

  • Marcy Leonard

    Have admired your work for awhile, Ray. I bet I will for a long time too! Keep up the good work (on all fronts).

  • MSD

    Ray, I applaud you and you have my respect. This is a awesome piece of writing. Congrats on fixing turning your life around. What Baffert said was disrespectful, wrong, and unclassy. And to hear that TVG wouldn’t let you talk because of Royal Ascot coverage is sickening to me. Shame on them….after what Baffert said on THERE network.

  • Susan L

    Ray, I’m glad you’ve gone to rehab and gotten your problems under control. Those of us who had to experience the pre-rehab Ray Paulick are glad you’re better.

    Baffert may or may not have been making a joke about your addiction. 99.9% of the public would never notice.

    According to the CHRB, Baffert did not have fatality numbers that were outside the norm. The post-mortem checks bear this out. Maybe he has a problem in his barn, maybe he doesn’t. But I don’t see any evidence that points to singling him out and painting him with such a negative brush. If you have some special or insider evidence that shows that Baffert has definitely done wrong, it should be shared with the public so he can be reprimanded.

    Until then, if you dish it out you should be able to take it. Many in the industry put up with s**t from you, and have given you a second chance. So until I see definitive evidence that Baffert is involved in wrongdoing, I will give him the same pass I gave you.

    • Andrew A.

      “According to the CHRB, Baffert did not have fatality numbers outside the norm?

      In a 17 month period he had 7-8 or 14-17 sudden deaths out of all of California Racing. That is such a high percentage that nobody has ever heard of such a thing. If you ever get a chance ask Jack Van Berg or Bruce Headley who have been around the longest if they have ever heard of such a thing.

      http://m.utsandiego.com/news/2013/apr/11/california-horse-deaths/

      Jim Cassidy, president of the California Thoroughbred
      Trainers, said in over 30 years as a trainer he has only lost one horse to
      sudden death, and that was after the horse had surgery.

      “It makes us all look like a bunch of idiots around
      here,” Cassidy said of the recent reports. “When I hear from the (CHRB’s
      Medication and Track Safety) meeting yesterday that they had everything under
      control, how can they possibly have everything under control if you have seven
      or eight horses die like that in one barn.”

      • Jay

        In the words of F.E. Kilroe,”Don’t ever get in a pissing match with anyone who orders ink by the barrel”. In today’s world gigabytes by the…

      • Susan L.

        http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/77495/chrb-no-spike-in-sudden-deaths
        The CHRB, led by a noted animal activist–Bo Derek–has been very specific that the number of fatalities is not unusual. I have seen two horses die of cardiac arrest in one year in the hunt field, and that’s far less strenuous than racing, and the numbers of horses involved are far less than in Baffert’s barn. In Dubai–a zero meds racing venue–I saw one of Sh. Rashed’s horses drop dead of cardiac arrest as he was leading it into the winner’s circle. It happens.
        Until there is conclusive scientific evidence that Baffert is involved with actual wrongdoing–medications, injections, etc.–that led to these cardiac arrests, then you can’t tar him with that brush. It should be investigated, vets should be involved….but until there is evidence, don’t expect Baffert to stand by while people attack him.

        • Andrew A.

          Deleted

  • JEM

    Ray you handled this with class and transparency, thank you for what you do for racing. Paynter won with class, he is in the hearts of many both inside and outside our industry. His comeback is what they make movies about! Baffert has no class and needs to be held accountable for the horse deaths and all that comes with it. Even fans of him are starting to question the man. You already know I have been bullied by him in my fight for 72hr pre-race surveillance and out of competition testing for this years SA Derby. Seems to me his actions against you and I are to deflect from the REAL issue at hand. If we had pre-race surveillance and out of competition testing on all races then the question of cheaters is left to rules and regulations and not speculation. If one had a fortune cookie it might look like this: Months after Lance Armstrong admitted in a lengthy televised interview with Oprah that he had doped, lied and bullied for more than 10 years, Armstrong has, for one reason or another, failed to apologize to almost all of the people he promised he would.

  • Andrew A.

    Sounds a little like the Lance Armstrong story when Lance was thought by many to be “BIGGER than the game”.

    • Susan L

      Lance Armstrong was eventually brought down by conclusive evidence. If Baffert has done something wrong, then it is evidence that should bring him down. What sounds disingenuous to those of us who have known Ray for years is the fact that this persona as a relentless investigative journalist is quite new for someone who made a career as the ultimate insider. Every addict thinks they should get a pass as soon as they admit what they did. And the industry has largely given Ray a pass–so he needs to stop whining. If he has evidence, then present it as straight fact–like a real journalist.

      I hope Baffert is not doing anything illegal or immoral. If he is, the authorities in racing should take him down. I have a great deal of faith that the system eventually works, and the TRPB is a formidable force for good.

      • Andrew A.

        He is behaving almost exactly the same with people asking questions about the astronomically high percentage of Horse Deaths from his barn.

        His method of operation is to misrepresent the truth, play the perpetual victim, and attack the messenger, not only in my opinion but from my personal experience. How’s that?

      • Knowitall

        Then you live in Never Never Land. Do they have live racing there?

        And evidence can be covered up, and witnesses intimidated into not speaking on the record. For a while. Until someone’s relentless questions beg answers. Oh, wait, sounds like a cyclist we all know and loved…

  • idavis

    Agree. No excuse for Bob’s comments re Ray, but perhaps as someone said, it was done in a split second w/a mic in front of him, & he wanted to be “clever” or whatever.
    Regarding the sudden deaths of 7 horses in his care, I thought I read an article about horses dying of rat-poisoning at another track in CA. Also in the article was mention that many legal supplements/foods promoted and advertised by various trainers in the industry such as Baffert, Pletcher, O’Neill, etc. should also be looked into b/c what’s good for one horse, may not be good for another…as the saying goes….”one man’s meat & is another man’s poison”. Why aren’t the results of necropsy reports made known? I assume each had a necropsy, is that not true?

    I think forcing the truth to be known is a good thing. However, I assume the man is innocent until proven guilty. It’s so easy to ruin a person’s reputation these days, and once ruined, it’s the most difficult thing to restore. IMHO, we shouldn’t be bad-mouthing anyone until we have the facts.

  • june o’neill

    From where I sit, Ray, you seem to publish more negative than positive. You could make it a rule that when you accentuate the negative you try to follow with a positive for the same connections. I’ve never seen you say something positive about Nebraska racing but boy o boy you sure love to publish anything negative.

  • Ida Lee

    Nothing, but nothing, should have clouded Paynter’s return to racing and in such a wonderful and exciting fashion. Too many of us shed too many tears watching this most special animal fight for his life. It was a dream we were afraid to dream that one day we would see him running happily to the finish line all by himself. Indeed “Welcome Back Big Boy”. So, I’m royally pissed that Baffert decides to come after Mr. Paulick personally with such a totally uncalled for and downright stupid remark when it should have been all about PAYNTER, not about Baffert or Mr. Paulick. Anyway, this whole incident just put Baffert’s barn more in the spotlight and quite frankly, if the number of breakdowns are what is being reported, I too would like to know WHY!! Mr. Baffert…”killing the messenger” just doesn’t work like it used to…always more messengers.

  • Carrie E

    Ray, IMHO, you brought this on yourself. Your initial story about the suspicious dead horses raised enough eyebrows (and you should’ve let it go at that). However, in your most recent story, your headline references a dead quarterhorse — however, in the first paragraph, you do nothing but bash Baffert. I would think that the first paragraph, or two, would be about the story at hand? Regardless, I believe you opened this can of worms.
    The fact is, it’s in the hands of the CHRB — not yours.

    • Knowitall

      I’d love to see how the world worked if no one asked questions, investigated “authority”, or held anyone accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. Just sayin”.

      • Susan L

        This is not an investigation–it’s just opinion and a personal pissing contest.
        I, too, would like to see real investigation. If Ray has facts, lay ‘em on the table. But if you just throw an opinion out there, don’t be surprised when the other guy fires back.

        • upstarthere

          Why does Ray have to provide the facts? FYI in the absence of the official organization(s) doing their job people have a right to question what has happened and why. Interesting what Baffert chooses NOT to address.

        • Knowitall

          Actually Susan, it is called investigative journalism, and Ray seems to me to be trying to loosen the rocks stuffed in the hole by Baffert and the CHRB…and if you choose to defend the small minded HOF trainer who chose Paynter’s day to take a very personal piss in return as his way of representing the finest the sport has to offer, that’s fine. To each, her own.

    • Andrew A.

      Brought it on himself? Yes, he brought a lot of people in to comment on the article. I’m sure his advertisers are happy about the dramatic increase in traffic.

      You can’t wish away the stunningly high percentage of sudden deaths
      in the Baffert barn over a short period of time.

      People love animals and Horses in particular.

    • betterthannothing

      What really matters is not who or what was discussed in the first paragraph of two of an article about a dead quarter horse but that Ray exposed a tragic situation in one barn which the CHRB was ready to pass as routine casualty.

      Public outcry forces change in horse racing not horsemen or officials.

  • simon

    Indian Charlie’s column is a joke nobody with any common sense would read that rubbish. The articles aren’t even funny. It is a poor desperate attempt at humor that gets worse the more he writes. The only reason people advertise with him is so they don’t get mentioned in his trashy rag that he hands out. I guess there is a saying paper takes ink. You do a great job Ray

  • shobogirl2

    Congrats on fifth birthday and your courage, have read your website since beginning, and passed it on to a lot of Quarter Horse trainers here in Louisiana.

  • Guy Fleegman1

    Wonder how many managers/owners in other sports would be allowed to get away with what Roberto Bafferto does if 7 of their players died after a game in 18 months????

  • greg

    Cam one spell EPO followed by a side of Warfarin? That = 7 dead horses

    • Oscetra

      Throw in Lasix, dexamethasone, clenbuteral, some synthetic adrenaline (undetectable), etc. It’s chemical warfare. Just follow the money.

  • Lois Lane

    I have been saying “Put that in your pipe and smoke it” for years & years, decades. It is an old saying, nothing to do with you Ray. You may have misjudged Baffert. I don’t know his heart and neither do you. Maybe you should look at yourself & how you trashed him.

    • betterthannothing

      I wanna some of that good stuff you’re smoking and rose colored glasses just like yours!

  • greg

    Whenever there is a lone voice it always seems there’s a motive, then others
    begin to speak-up and the lone voice is not so bad, hopefully this will
    happen. Not just with Baffert, we need him, Sadler, Miller, Mitchell,
    all investigated from the bottom of their car tires to the top of the
    barns, they are dirty. This is not anger, I watch races from Ky, NY,
    Fla, Canada DAILY and nowhere do trainer cheat like they do here in So
    Cal/No Cal (I don’t watch No Cal) and get away with it. Every day I can
    point out between 1-3 winners that did NOT win on ability alone in So Cal

  • RECOVERED

    alcohol or narcotics is NOT a disease it is a huge CHARACTER FLAW!!! SORRY

  • hornedone

    Get over it…Not even worth talking about. You want to beat Baffert. How many Kentucky Derby horses has Paulick run. What a Joke…Drug addiction isn’t a disease. It’s a habit that people that don’t have a sense of self worth have…Oh I’m sorry did I offend…

  • hornedone

    Whats next…No smoking at the track… It’s not church. Get a Spine

  • Lsmatthias

    I don’t know what all the hoopla is about. there IS an old expression, “put that in your pipe and smoke it”. My grandma used to say it, and believe you, me, it it nothing to do with crack. Perhaps he’s just trying to make something from nothing. I’ve heard Baffert speak very colloquially in interviews; maybe it’s just that. end of story.

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