Questions Still Unanswered in Baffert Sudden Deaths

by | 08.14.2013 | 9:46am
Trainer Bob Baffert

Sometimes I'm a little slow at figuring things out.

It's been just over four months since racing writers at several publications got ahold of California Horse Racing Board necropsy reports detailing the sudden, unexplained deaths of seven racehorses from the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert over a 16-month period from Nov. 4, 2011 through March 14, 2013.

The horses died from non-musculoskeletal incidents during or immediately after racing or training. The number was extraordinary: during the approximate time frame of the seven fatalities, Baffert accounted for 2.5% of all starts in California but 19.4% of the sudden deaths.

The story generated a wave of bad publicity that led the normally approachable Baffert to issue a statement through Englander Knabe & Allen, a Los Angeles public relations firm that specializes in crisis management communications.

“I am working with everyone,” Baffert's statement read, “including the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), my veterinarians and staff at the tracks to find causes for the unexplained deaths. California Horse Racing Board's Bo Derek and the state's equine medical director, Dr. Rick Arthur, have made it clear that nothing I have done has caused any horse I have trained to suffer equine sudden death syndrome. My professional focus will continue to be to provide the best care for my horses, with constant concern for their well-being.”

Two months later, the California Horse Racing Board distributed an advisory, saying that it is “continuing its ongoing review of sudden death in racehorses. Given that one barn at Hollywood Park housed a relatively high number of the sudden deaths that occurred over the last two years, CHRB investigators have taken steps to determine if there was a relationship between the barn and sudden deaths.”

The June 21 advisory said the unnamed trainer – obviously Baffert – and his staff had been “very cooperative” and that pathology and toxicology work indicated there had been no “foul play.” Environmental testing of the barn is being done and the CHRB anticipates the results to be available in September.

Over the next several weeks, especially after arriving in Southern California to attend the Del Mar meeting, I was encouraged by numerous owners, breeders, trainers and other industry professionals to keep asking questions, because things simply didn't make sense.

I began to wonder why – if the CHRB has an ongoing review or investigation – commissioner Bo Derek, who chairs the Medication and Track Safety Committee meeting, and equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur would have gone out on a limb and “made it clear” Baffert did nothing that led to the deaths. At least that was the phrase contained in the press release from Baffert's crisis management team.

Turns out Derek and Arthur said nothing of the kind.

“I am happy to defend what I say but am not responsible for what others say I said, especially someone's publicist,” Arthur said in an email to the Paulick Report.

Derek declined to comment directly but asked CHRB communications officer Mike Marten to state her position. “Dr. Arthur advised you in his email that he never made such a statement,” Marten wrote. “Commissioner Derek has authorized me to inform you that she never made such a statement, either.”

Marten went on to say Derek assumed comments attributed to her were taken from her report at the April 11 CHRB meeting on the Medication and Track Safety Committee meeting held the previous day.

Transcripts from that meeting quote Derek saying, “To be clear on another point, no trainer or trainers have been mentioned in our discussions of sudden deaths.”

The pathologists who examined the deceased horses certainly did mention Baffert's unusual number of sudden deaths.

In the necropsy report for Uncle Sam, a Kaleem Shah-owned horse who died Jan. 6, 2012, a notation said it was the third such death from the same owner and trainer in just over two months. Then, 5 1/2 months later, after Mike Pegram's CJ Russell died following a June 15 race, a pathologist wrote, “Fourth horse to collapse/die for this trainer in less than one year.”

The Paulick Report asked Eric Rose and Juan Garza, the Englander Knabe & Allen publicists who represent Baffert, where the comments attributed to commissioner Derek and equine medical director Arthur came from. They did not respond to emails seeking clarification.

Rose and Garza previously declined to facilitate an interview with Baffert on the sudden deaths, after the Paulick Report submitted a list of written questions to them. The questions were designed to give Baffert an opportunity to explain, among other things, exactly what he meant in his statement when he said “I am working with everyone” to determine the cause of the sudden deaths.

Did Baffert or his owners hire independent experts or companies to investigate on his behalf? If so, when? Did he make changes to his training, feed, barn management personnel, security, surveillance, or medication programs? When did he first turn over veterinary records on the deceased horses to the CHRB? Did racing board investigators conduct any unannounced searches of his barn, vehicles, tack rooms, or employee living quarters after the spike in fatalities?

“It is clear that you are not looking for answers, but rather you are looking to settle a grudge,” Rose responded to the interview request. “Therefore, Bob has no interest in providing answers to your questions – questions that he has answered numerous times.”

For the record, if anything, my relationship with trainer Baffert over the last 20 years probably has been too cozy. There was no grudge or score to settle. I would characterize our relationship as very friendly, at least until late March when I first asked about the horses who had died. He criticized other trainers for stirring up the controversy – calling them “jealous.” It struck me as sad that a trainer who has accomplished so much and promoted the sport so willingly was so quick to put the blame on other horsemen for something that happened under his watch.

And I'm quite certain Rose was not telling the truth about Baffert having answered those same questions numerous times before.  As I learned from Bo Derek and Rick Arthur, publicists sometimes have a way of just making stuff up.

  • 14151617

    Stay on it Ray and thank you.

  • Rebekah Lane

    No one likes to be a patsy, so if Rick Arthur and Bo Derek were used by Baffert and his flacks, maybe we can expect some justice for the dead horses after all. The credibility of Arthur and Derek — and the California Horse Racing Board as a whole — cratered after the PR release, so their failure to rebut the statements attributed to them is puzzling. Still, their tardy reaction, and the support you report receiving from the racing community in Southern California, is heartening for those of us who find Baffert’s behavior … baffling.

    Let’s hope the September report provide answers. Either way, Baffert’s response to the deaths and inquiries has damaged his brand for many fans.



    • Olebobbowers

      Couldn’t agree more, Jerry J.

  • Andrew A.


    “It’s a complete

    Dr. Rick Arthur, equine
    medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, seconded that.

    Arthur called the seven
    deaths “disturbing” and “a statistical anomaly.” He said
    the barn in question is run by Mike Marlow, who once worked for Lukas, who is
    known for sparkling-clean barns.

    “No criticism of Baffert
    here,” Arthur said, “but that barn is not Baffert clean, it’s Wayne
    Lukas clean.”

    Arthur also said that,
    although final toxicology reports will come this summer, he and his
    investigators have been unable to find a single cause, or any wrongdoing.

    “From the start,”
    Arthur said, “Bob has been cooperative and supplied us with everything we
    asked for.”

  • Andrew A.

    The Lance Armstrong of Horse Racing in my opinion.

    • Dan Jividen

      Oh that’s harsh. Surely Richard Dutrow, Jr. is the Lance Armstrong of thoroughbred racing?

      • Nayrod

        There is a long list people and most are top named so called trainers!

  • Greg Jones

    Can you imagine if this was any other trainer? They would have been suspended in a heartbeat and/or the investigation would have solid answers by now. This has been a sad joke, from the CHRB to the joke of a attitude by Baffert. Sadly, when all is said and done, no blame will be put on Baffert and they will probably blame the feed.

    Andy, you are correct, the Lance Armstrong of Horse racing indeed, too bad people still defend this man.
    Ray, thank you for staying with this story.

  • Oscetra

    It might be interesting to know the names of the horses that have died and where he got them. Sales history. Maybe they came from the drug laden 2-y-o sales and were already systemically compromised. The racing drugs may have put them over the edge… Just sayin’ – it would be interesting to track and see if there are any commonalities…

    • Knowitall

      You can name your next two year old Red Herring.

    • Knowitall

      And just to name the three horses that are most well known on the death watch, Irrefutable was a two year old purchase, but I think was 5 when he died. Uncle Sam was a yearling purchase, CJ Russell a homebred.

      What is rarely mentioned are the fast three year olds that died of “pnuemonia” over the years and before the rash of “sudden deaths.”

      • betterthannothing

        Clutch Player and Tiny Woods:

        From the Blood Horse:
        “Kaleem Shah’s Clutch Player, who broke his maiden last month in his first start and was considered a possible prospect for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), died Jan. 4 (2010) of pneumonia, Daily Racing Form reported.

        The colt, by Malibu Moon out of the Awesome Again mare Riverkeeper, won a six-furlong maiden special weight event at Hollywood Park by four lengths in 1:08.91.

        Trainer Bob Baffert told Daily Racing Form the colt became sick Jan. 1 and was sent to the Chino Valley Equine Hospital. “In 72 hours, he was gone,” Baffert told the paper. “The mood here has been pretty somber.”

        Clutch Player died before his 3rd birthday and 3 year old Tiny Woods died that summer of lighting fast pneumonia as well.

        • Knowitall

          And Diamond Omi. Again, one trainer, many more lung related deaths than the average?

  • GodsFavor

    Everyone know how hard Baffert works his horses. Just look at the times. He is training top horses for top races and he wins a lot. Unfortunately when athletes train too hard, some just can’t handle it. As a retired pro athlete, I had two friends just drop dead while jogging and I know of many more in all sports at all levels. All is ever stated is they don’t know or they had an enlarged heart.

  • betterthannothing

    Can the CHRB answer the following questions?

    What were Baffert’s win %, ITM % and earnings per start or per month from November 4, 2011 to March 14, 2013 during which seven Baffert horses dropped dead?

    Has a single Baffert horse dropped dead since the PR and other reporters exposed those deaths over four months ago?

    What have been Baffert’s win %, ITM % and earnings per start or per month since the PR and other reporters exposed those seven deaths?

    • mike connors

      Do we know those numbers?

      • betterthannothing

        Perhaps the CHRB investigation is looking for a clue there. Four months since the PR and other reporters exposed the 7 dead horses is a short time to get good stats but since Baffert races many horses those numbers might be already look interesting enough.

    • You can find that out yourself on Equibase, as far as percentages. And I think if another Baffert horse had dropped dead on the track it would have been noted somewhere.

      • betterthannothing

        “if another Baffert horse had dropped dead on the track it would have been noted somewhere”

    • I take it back. You can only see the whole year. However, doing the math between 2012 and 2013; in 2012 he won 28% percent of races, this year 23%. Last year his in the money percentage was 61.8 %, this year 52.7%. If the drop occurred after the deaths, I don’t know, but there was clearly a drop from the previous year.

  • Roger

    This simply doesn’t pass the SMELL test and a independent investigation is needed. The problem in CA …..who will push for an independent investigation….the TOC? The Attorney General of California won’t lift a finger unless it will help her career advancement so nothing will be said and nothing will be done……welcome to California Racing.

  • Sal Carcia

    The Paulick Report does give the impression that Baffert is hiding something and the CHRB is covering up on his behalf. Or at least, the CHRB is not pursuing the issue seriously enough. For the first time, I am getting a hint the Baffert thinks that other trainers have put Ray Paulick up to this investigation. If that is Baffert’s belief, then I can understand Baffert’s reluctance to be questioned by the Paulick Report. From the commentors, I always get the feeling that they don’t trust the trainers in general. I believe this is the result of the horsepeople’s almost complete lack of regard for the players. All forums on horseracing reflect how frustrated the players are with they way they are ignored. None of this is good for the longterm health of the horseracing business. Ray, in many ways, is a representative of the players. Baffert just cannot for the game’s sake ignore this. He needs to find a way to reach out to Ray. Bob, it’s up to you to be a leader here.

    • Biggar

      Ya! All trainers are likely to reach out to those that imply that they kill horses.

      • Sal Carcia

        Biggar, Ray was asking the obvious questions. I think that Baffert who is a leader and legend in the game should have just answered them. By not answering the obvious questions, it just leads to more speculation. It also shows a disdain to his fan base and the fan base of the game. The same is true for the CHRB.

  • Bobf

    It seems that since it is Bob Baffert involved in this, the CHRB hasn’t been very aggressive with their investigation.

  • Mike Hunt

    Baffert is bringing a whole new meaning to “firing bullets in the morning”

  • Guy Fleegman1

    Bo Derek being on the CHRB tells you ALL you need to know about how horrible and worthless the CHRB is. RIP Calif Horse Racing…even 5 extra weeks at Del Mar will not save you…

  • Ben van den Brink

    I do think without any prooof btw, that there is alot of money and interests involved. Maybe the sudden deaths stopped as sudden after all the publicity.

  • Anton Chigurh

    Well just watch the hijinks ensue when you couple Arthur and 10!

    • Chris Lowe

      Blake Edwards just flipped over in his coffin.

  • Curtis Clark

    Like most things, out of sight out of mind…veterinarian reports on each horse are deposited daily with State Veterinarian Officials, treatments, medication delivery so forth, that being said that doesn’t mean things are not left off. Of course, “unintentionally” what i would like to know is the correlation between the death rates and the Veterinarian groups that treated these horses. Ultimately unless people like yourself Ray Paulick keep questioning the deaths of race horses in this manner it eventually goes away and we won’t have any answers, but i am sure there more than a few people that do not want those answers. Keep digging RAY.

  • Richard C

    This is what happens when those in charge are figureheads to powerful figures they are supposed to oversee….but it is convenient to have confusion, since the few national turf scribes are tugged around by editors needing other beats to be temporarily covered and the vast national sports media will get bored after a couple news cycles….especially if there is no rush for follow ups by the competition. But Baffert showed his real bullying, cowardly side by taking a verbal run at Ray….which speaks volumes on why this issue cannot go away until the tough questions receive real answers from all involved in what is clearly appearing to be a cover-up.

  • md

    Get em Ray!

  • August Song

    “The best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way.”

    Samuel Butler

  • cgriff

    So here’s my question, if Arthur and Derek knew they were being misquoted (in fact, that’s not accurate either – totally bogus quotes were being attributed to them) and did nothing to stand up and say “we never said that” about something as serious as this sudden death spike…..what the heck are they doing with their time out there? Does the CHRB pretty much just rubber stamp its top trainers without ever actually seeing or listening?

    As for Baffert? To paraphrase Claude Rains in Casablanca ‘I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that he would have publicists lie!” Baffert – involved or not – is his own worst enemy in dealing with anything but sunny situations where he can wax quippy. The minute the publicity turns negative – his petulant man-child self comes out and he starts to throw toys and stamp his feet. His second wife Jill has tried to work with him on this, but over the years I fear he has rubbed off on her more than she has been able to tutor him.

    If he were truly interested in what was killing his horses – he’d be at the front of the line with every bit of evidence he had to try and find out what the common denominator is. But instead, it’s everyone being out to get him because he’s such a “winner” and deny,lie,and then just run away and hide. Like I said – man-child behavior.

    I think the post calling him the Lance Armstrong of racing is one of the most clever comparisons I’ve ever heard – but until we know the facts, it still may be undeserved. But Baffert’s behavior is sure right out of the Armstrong PR playbook. And justice and the truth grind slow…..but exceedingly fine.

  • SusanKayne

    Seriously… many ways can we say CLENBUTEROL….no matter who administers it, no matter east or west coast ….repeated, excessive long term use results in sudden death.

    • Greg Jones

      Susan, thank you! Been saying this for years, this is the one drug that should be outlawed, period! Baffert pushes the envelope with the junk, depending on who said owner of horse is, IMHO.

      • Janet delcastillo

        The studies done by Rutgers University are presented in my book, BACKYARD RACEHORSE. Using Clenbuterol so frequently eventually diminishes the lung capacity even as it makes the horse look more muscular…how many owners are aware as the horse looks “better” he is really having the steroid like effect of the medication. Short term “fix” long term disaster.

        • Greg Jones

          Thank you Janet.

    • Bobbros

      Does anybody remember the Polo horses in Florida, they all died on the spot

      • Name

        That was an error made by the compounding pharmacy not clenbuterol. Still sucks.

  • Bocephus

    “We are conducting an internal investigation…” Sound familiar?

    • Chris Lowe

      So does”We are monitoring the situation.”

  • Austin Brown

    It’s time to get to the bottom of this investigation. The CHRB has done
    more damage as it has good. Ms Derek has looked after the well being of horses
    in regards to rescue and re homing for horses in general. With that said she has
    no business on the CHRB.

    Dr Arthur a few years back bred a horse name Rio Oro ( Dam Rio Tio which he
    owned ) The horse was bought for $2400.00 at the Barretts sale. The purchaser of
    Rio Moro took the gelding to AZ and he won 7 out of 9 races and a 2 year
    futurity at the old Prescott Downs. The New owners asked Dr Arthur to
    register Rio Oro as a cal bred, he finally gave in and Rio Moro won the San
    Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita, you would think he would have some horse sense
    when it comes to registering a horse, not the case.

    Wake up people Baffert was hoping horses on the Arizona fair circuit way
    before he ended up in Southern California ( along with Mullins ) It was all
    about the good old dollar and NOT the well being of the horses.

    It’s a shame they are not considered horseman well known as butchers. When
    they arrived in Southern California the true horseman just shook their head.
    Charlie Whittingham, Ediie Gregson, Jerry Fanning , Richard Mandella, Chuck
    Taliaferro the list can go on and on.

    IM sure the CHRB will turn a blind eye as it usually does. The time has
    come to get the state attorney general involved, enough is enough with the CHRB

  • DinkyDiva

    Keep on it Ray. There must be answers for these horses.

  • HogHater

    IMO, the CHRB, Mr Arthur, Ms. Derek, et al are doing the sport a huge favor. 99% of the horse racing fans could care less about this subject UNLESS Mr. Baffert was found to be 100% guilty of any intentional wrongdoing. What good does it do to drag Baffert’s name through the mud?
    Who really knows if Mr. Baffert is guilty of anything other than having powerful owners, strong professional connections and an unfortunate run of bad luck. Has Mr. Shah gotten out of the sport or moved his horses to another barn?

  • s/s

    THE FOX IS WATCHING THE HEN HOUSE. Ban him and the House of Cards collapses.

    A few years ago I did a little research on how many Baffert horses retire sound. Hard to find one.

    I do know he uses and endorses a muscle mass product that I tried and my fillies tied up so bad they couldn’t walk correctly for 2 months. They put on 40lbs of muscle in 1 month so I inquired to the company and they told me it couldn’t be their product cause Baffert uses twice the dose and he has no problems. Oh and by the way it doesn’t test.

  • Ida Lee

    Oh Boy!! The doodoo is going to fly now…and I’m sure it’s mainly going in your direction Mr. Paulick. But, I say…buy an umbrella and keep up the great work. Those of us who love animals and horses in particular appreciate so much you keeping this sad story before the public. I used to like Baffert, mainly of course because of all the great horses he’s been associated with. But, after the obnoxious way in which he’s handled this whole sorry situation, he’s quickly approaching the top of my “what are you hiding” list.

  • Rambunctious

    There are other barns that have lost horses that suddenly collapsed . those that are much smaller barns .Many on the West Coast . Unfortunately over the years some also go unreported . Some are on the Equus memorial wall .
    Did anyone investigate Tuscan Evening’s death ? Never heard a peep .
    What would Baffert have to gain if he was guilty . He’d have way more to lose ..

    • betterthannothing

      The CHRB only disclosed that her cause of death was massive pulmonary hemorrhage, but what caused such fatal condition?

      • Rambunctious

        exactly , wheres the outcry ?

        • RayPaulick

          If the trainer of Tuscan Evening had six other similar deaths in 16 months there would be an outcry. He didn’t.

      • Ida Lee

        The beloved Tuscan Evening died because she suffered a massive pulmonary hemorrhage. Yes, I remember it well. She was gorgeous and incredibly talented and I loved her dearly. It was tragic but tragic things happen and there’s nothing we can do about it. As most of us know, very few people or animals survive such an event. It happens to animals and humans, whether healthy or sickly, athletic or sedentary. This Baffert situation screams for further investigation and an explanation.

        • Roisin

          A massive pulmonary hemorrhage has an underlying cause. All I can think of as a “natural cause” of such an event would be a rupture of a pretty major pulmonary vessel. Something like that would be identified on a necropsy.
          So in essence, her death from pulmonary hemorrhage is still a mystery because no cause of the massive bleed was identified.

    • RayPaulick

      No other trainer had more than one sudden death during the period that seven came from one stable.

  • Kris

    Is this the beginning of ‘Baffertgate?’

  • iliveforsaturday

    This is a solid use the power journalism can hold. Congrats. I always have said that if I’m even in the position to do similar, I would. Thanks for showing me it still happens every now and then.

    .It’s so easy to forget at times, but that’s what this sport is about – the horse. Keep at it.

  • Luigi Giovanni

    Ray, Jill & Bode will pray for the salvation of your black heart. Not Bob, however.

  • Barry Irwin

    Ray Paulick is the most consistent Turf Writer investigating and writing about the subjects and people that deserve the most scrutiny. He is to be commended for his efforts. I continue to be impressed by his courage and willingness to get to the truth.

    • Right then, Right now

      ….unless his advertisers are complicit….

      • Knowitall

        Cost him at least one advertiser. Read the list and see if you can figure it out. And Ray plainly mentioned the parade of folks that have told him to stay on it, especially in California. What is most odd, is the failure of the CHRB to do it’s job, not that a world beating trainer was possibly taking an edge (right along with many of his brethren.)

        Whatever Bob’s barn did or didn’t do, he didn’t want his horses to die. Tough way to have to self correct, though.

        • Right then, Right now

          I’m guessing Hill ‘n Dale. Maybe John Sikura finally made an offer that someone refused.

          • Oscetra

            My guess matches yours! That would be nice for a change…

  • Jon

    It’s a sad state of affairs when the CHRB cares more for Baffert then the horses that died. How can the owners not be outraged and demand a true explanation? Keep on this story. Keep, demanding answers.

  • Gary Sherlock

    Pardon the pun Ray ! But aren’t you rather beating a dead horse

    • RayPaulick

      I respect your opinion on that, Gary, but I feel the public is entitled to know that everything that can possibly be done to investigate this matter has been or will be done. As I wrote, sometimes it takes me a while to understand certain things, but when I looked back at the position statement attributed to commissioner Derek and equine medical director Arthur absolving Bob Baffert while an investigation was still going on, that raised a red flag. I was happy to learn Derek and Arthur have distanced themselves from that statement, because it gives more credibility to the CHRB and the ongoing review. I am curious, however, as to why the publicists hired by Baffert felt the need to put words in their mouths they did not say.

    • Knowitall

      More like making sure another one doesn’t turn up.

  • ShuveeIL

    It’s always irked me that CHRB commissioner Bo Derek, who has been entrusted with chairing the Board’s Medication and Track Safety Committee, is often seen carousing with the Bafferts at the track (and, likely, off-track as well). How can she possibly be a regulator and maintain a neutral stance if she’s cozy with the Bafferts? It’s BAFF-ling to me.

    • MSD

      I’ve seen David Israel, the chairman of the CHRB, SITTING in Baffert’s box!!!! The CHRB is a disgrace and embarassment.

  • Nayrod

    May the truth set you free Baffert! We all know the reasons. Who are you kidding acting surprised.

  • mike

    Everyone knocks Dutrow – but no horse brokedown and died in the last six years.

    • I agree, Dutrow gets so much heat and how was he really worse than anyone? I think he was better. Being more honest made him look more of a cheater. Bob on the other hand used charm to appear honest.

      • Roisin

        Yes !!

    • johnnyknj

      Agree Rick got a raw deal and think he is a terrific horseman, but he has had breakdowns – Adagio, 9/19/10 Mth is one.

  • Patti Davis

    I think Spud Paulick can sniff out the truth better than the CHRB.

  • drcate4

    I like the clenbuterol theory, but is it possible that pedigree and bloodlines are involved in any way? Is a genetic anomaly involved, or a genetic susceptibility? I remember Impressive, a quarter horse stallion who completely changed the QH industry because of a genetic defect he passed along to his get.

  • mike

    Very Perceptive Comment

  • chistine

    Keep on him RAY. There is something going on here. I would guess it is some kind of a drug that would not show up in the blood. More then likely they nee insurance money. It has been done in the past and as we know this can be a cruel world, a MONEY HUNGRY WORLD.

    • RayPaulick

      Six of the seven horses deceased horses were uninsured.

      • Sue M. Chapman

        Tax write offs.

        • Knowitall

          Then we all need your special accountant Susan.
          No one was just killing horses on purpose in Baffert’s barn.

  • chistine

    Knowing 6 of the 7 horses were uninsured would take the insurance money out , but it does not take out the fact that something fishes is going on. And why would thoses 6 horses not be insured? That makes no since to me, very odd. Or it could be very simple, the horses were not producing money, no insurance, so just get rid of them, no feed bill no vet bill, i,ve heard some old timers say that sometimes your better off getting rid of them, in the long run you come out ahead. That is sad to hear. Anyways please stay on top of this issue, we all want answers.

    • Knowitall

      Many self insure. It’s a numbers game, and insurance is for what you can’t afford to lose. And No One gets rid of slow horses that way to avoid a feed bill. The absurdity of that suggestion is mind boggling given how many slow horses there are;) Same owner for several of them is interesting, though, but I don’t think it has anything to do with insurance.

  • Skip EAN

    Very worthwhile story. When one of the big trainers begins to waffle like this, he is in the eye of a large racing public. Maybe this will educate horse players and the public alike that drugging and abusing horses is inhumane, dishonest, greedy and very bad for the sport.

  • pinky

    As my stat prof used to say, “figures can’t lie, but liars can figure”
    I’d like to get to the bottom of this as much as anyone, but through trial by journalism. Numbers need to be tested for statistical significance before they’re admitted as proof of anything.
    And the same goes for quotations taken out of context.
    As far as delays in responses to questions and accusations, that’s unfortunately become the new norm in a lawsuit-happy culture – for the innocent as well as the guilty.
    Yes by all means, dig deeper. but truth is more valuable than bloodlust.

  • georgiepine

    very interesting

  • Patricia Jones

    keep up the good work find the answer after you do i have another problem for you to solve that no one wants to talk about

  • mike

    The horse won and was vanned off – it did not die.

    • johnnyknj

      Wrong. Broke down, vanned off, put down.

      • Greg Jones

        What horse are you talking about?

  • Christine Coleman

    Ray, stay on these folks–those numbers don’t lie. Thank you for your honesty and courage.

  • charles mcginnes

    From the title, should I assume that all of the other sudden deaths have been solved and it is only the Baffert ones that have questions still remaining? Or would it have been more accurate to say that there are still unanswered questions in all of the CA sudden deaths?

  • Rocket Scientist

    I wouldn’t be so to quick to judge and rule that Baffert was doing something nefarious. It could be a tainted water source or grazing area. I think the man deserves the benefit of the doubt. I don’t like when people are so quick to ruin a man’s reputation.

    • Andrew A.

      Not too many people familiar with him give him the benefit of the doubt anymore. He tries to intimidate the media and anyone else who questions his word. Again, he is Lance Armstrong. Same method of operation.

      • Roark

        Such generalization! Do you really know what “many people familiar” with Baffert are thinking when they number in the many thousands? The Baffert I know usually jokes with the media, and he is very forthcoming about his horses…much more than many other trainers. There is absolutely no similarity between Baffert and Lance Armstrong, other than their fame.

        • Andrew A.

          Then you don’t know him too well. Good luck.

  • poway.mojo

    I seem to remember an item stating the the Hollywood park barn that Bob uses was once a quarantine barn for overseas horses. Is it not possible that one or more of them could have carried a parasite unknown in the USA and which lingers in the stall walls/floor?

    Just wondering.

  • cheri

    Bob Baffert is washed up. I wish he would slink away. I don’t like how he has handled this at all. He just comes off to me as sleazy anymore. I don’t like it. I used to think he was kinda cool, but now I think he is shameful.

  • Eddie Donnally

    You have real guts. Perhaps you’re one of the last of a dying breed of real reporters.

  • cheri

    One death of a beautiful equine athlete, even a brush with it is too much for me.







  • Mimi Hunter

    Ray, You know where I stand on this issue – please keep at it.

  • Biggar

    Don’t fret. Ray will stay on it. It generates more interest than any other subject. And that is the purpose of blogs.

  • Karin

    Thank you for your article. Please continue to ask your questions. Something is not right.

  • Karin

    We have two seperate issues here. One being the 7 sudden deaths and the second being the death of Take Control. Please continue to report on each one……this article did not mention the circumstances surrounding the death of Take Control.

  • Jesse Vertrees

    And to think Steve Asmussen is being crucified by PETA and everyone in the sport!!!! Seems all the “top” trainers ethics are questionable!

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