Report on Baffert Deaths: No Wrongdoing But ‘There’s Something Wrong Here’

by | 11.21.2013 | 6:56pm
Trainer Bob Baffert

An extensive investigation by the California Horse Racing Board into the sudden deaths of seven horses from trainer Bob Baffert's barn at Hollywood Park, from November 2011 to March 2013, concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Baffert or anyone associated with his stable.  The report could find no specific reason for the abnormal number of deaths in one stable.

The report was presented by Dr. Rick Arthur, the CHRB's equine medical director, at the regulatory board's regular monthly meeting, held at Hollywood Park on Thursday. It summarized results of post-mortem examination, toxicology and environmental tests, along with exercise and medication histories. Arthur said on multiple occasions that Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer, was extremely cooperative throughout the investigation, as were his staff and veterinarians.

Arthur said the CHRB and its researchers, who conduct post-mortem examinations of all equine fatalities at licensed racing and training facilities in the state, “has not identified a definitive explanation into the highly unusual sudden death clustering” of horses trained by Baffert. “There is no factually based explanation,” he said. “There is no evidence whatsoever that CHRB rules or regulations have been violated or any improper activity played a part in the sudden deaths.”

Nevertheless, Arthur called the “clustering” of the deaths over such a short time “undeniably exceptional.” He said the “probability value” of the occurrence was “less than .001 percent (one out of a thousand). Statistically, it is extremely abnormal.”

All horses were given toxicology tests with both urine and blood samples taken (urine was extracted from the bladder of the corpses). Nothing illegal was detected, said Arthur, though he called it “troublesome” that Baffert had the thyroid drug Thyro-L administered to all of the horses in his stable. Since the seventh sudden death occurred in March, Arthur said, Baffert has dropped that regimen.

A racetrack veterinarian contacted by the Paulick Report said the practice of routinely administering Thyro-L was not unusual.

The CHRB became aware of the Baffert deaths in November 2011 when two horses died in a relatively short time. Arthur said CHRB track veterinarian Jill Bailey contacted him, and that board chairman David Israel and others were then notified. Each subsequent Baffert death was examined carefully, although no public statements were made about the unusual number dying until published reports surfaced in April 2013, one month after the seventh horse dropped dead while training.

Arthur said the number of sudden deaths, which spiked from 2010-2012, have declined during the current year with just three such deaths from all trainers. No Baffert horses have died of non-musculoskeletal injuries since March.

“The conclusion on a scientific basis would be that there is something different about Baffert, about the Hollywood Park main track and the barn, but we couldn't find anything,” said Arthur. “It doesn't change the fact we don't have an answer. What it does do is say, ‘There's something wrong here.'”

Following the CHRB meeting, Baffert posted the following on his Twitter account: “I'm gratified that CHRB completed its investigation & found there was no wrongdoing . My focus will always be on the best care for my horses.”

  • Concerned

    Thyroxine’s principal function is to stimulate the consumption of oxygen and thus metabolism. “Administer with caution to animals a sharply increased metabolic rate might prove hazardous.” Signs of too much Thyroxine include hyperactivity, excess water drinking or eating, frequent urination & faster heart rate. But so glad it’s ‘normal’ to use on the backstretch. Best question would be “why did Baffert give it to every horse?” Did every one of his horses have thyroid deficiencies?

    • Lawrence Vaccarelli

      obvious it masks something very well.

      • Barry Irwin

        This is a stoopid statement.

        • Black Helen

          Wonder what chemical cocktail was in Baffert when HE had HIS
          heart attack??
          One of the worst cheats in the business.


      • turffan

        It doesn’t mask anything. It does tend to stimulate appetite & add a little bulk to slightly built horses. Not like steroid bulk, more like a weight builder/ calorie loader. It can be very helpful for horses who have a hard time holding weight despite the best feed money can buy. Remember the racetrack is an unnatural environment. Even horses that get to eat a lot of grass and even spend time at the farm can have weight issues while training.

        • Beach

          Hyperthyroidism tends to cause weight loss, not gain.

          • turffan

            Hypo/Hyper..maybe what equinemaid said below is key. I had a horse that just would not carry weight. Did all & I mean all kinds of testing, everything fine. Best feed & hay lots of grazing ( I don’t needle train). Vet finally suggested T-L, & horse started putting on weight, Why?? It obviously stabilized his hormones in some way. I know of many trainers who use it stable wide without horses dropping dead so I doubt this is the answer people are looking for.

          • Beach

            Why?? Perhaps coincidence…An equine vet would have to explain to me the point, purpose, or reason for using it in a euthyroid horse.

          • Steve Gibson

            He would not be able to explain it at least in any logical terms. It’s called doping and that’s what this was for all the deniers and Baffert bootlicking defenders out there.

          • Ann M. Adam

            The reason it COULD be the answer is because this substance in a horse that has a normal thyroid, it would cause increased heart rate above that caused by racing. This medicine is used for HYPOthyroidism to increase heart rate so the body will function normally. To use when thyroid is normal and especially if it is “hyper” (over active) is dangerous. I have taken levothyroxine for years because of hypothyroidism. I took my med. twice once because I forgot that I had already taken it. !! I only forgot ONCE !! My heart rate was scary and the treatment was to remain calm and relaxed, either seated or lying down and breath slowly and deeply. It was not to go out and run a race to try and win!

      • avid fan

        There is NO BASIS IN FACT in your statement. Just because an allowed med is used does not mean it “masks” something.
        Did you read the report? All the meds were given legally. If you have a quarrel with the actual USAGE of the medication, that’s valid. But don’t infer that Baffert is a “doper” any more than all the other trainers who use it.
        Trainers are given a protocol of medications they may legally use and report. If they are allowed to use these meds, the vast majority of them will use them. ALL MEDS have side effects, including aspirin and ibuprofen that many of we humans take. The big question is whether the benefits outweigh the side effects, and whether or not the meds give unfair advantage.
        If the meds have been deemed allowable and the dosages are within allowed limits, then the trainer is not at fault.
        If you want to argue actual usage, please stick to actual science.

        • Ann M. Adam

          You mean to say that if a MEDICINE is deemed legal for use then trainers will use it and vets will give it even if there is NO prevailing health condition in the horse that indicates the use of such EXCEPT that the horse needs more speed to win?????? Come ON! I think that this use of ANY substance this way COULD be called doping!

          • I’m not gonna try and comment for Avid Fan here, though I don’t think that Avids comment was stated to be takenas literal as it reads. Just for those whlo may believe it is literally stated. I’d like to state with absolute honesty that there are trainers out there who don’t give meds at all unless the horse requires a med for a particular condition. I’d never race a horse on a prescription drug, even if the Vet says it’s okay. I even use natural herbs for problematic bleeders. Works better and is also safer than Lasix. Also you’re correct too as per the doping comment. Wish more horsemen were conscience of the risks pharmaceuticals in runners present. Lives are at risk out there without any drugs in the horses being added. Think about it!

        • Sean Kerr

          To avid fan: If you are giving a drug when it isn’t needed or warranted or you are seeking to achieve an off-market benefit (e.g. enhanced performance due to weight loss) then you are absolutely ‘doping’ your horse. It doesn’t make any difference whether a medication is legal or not. Legal medications are clearly being and in this situation definitely are being abused. THAT is doping. To think otherwise is to be in denial.

        • Steve Gibson

          Correction, all the meds administered had a valid vet sign off on them. That does not mean they were properly administered if the vet gave them when they should not have been. When you can show me any evidence of any meaningful horse population (Baffert’s entire barn) as an example ALL requiring thyroid treatments you’ll have a valid defense for what happened. the reality is what the vet and Baffert were doing was absolutely doping and if you believe not you need to go and do some basic research on equines, specifically the rates at which horses “truly” are found to require the thyroid medicine Baffert and the vet DOPED 100% of his barn’s horses with. As the poster above correctly noted, on average less than 10% of the horses in a population require such treatments from a true medical need standpoint. Less than 10%. I’ll let you work the math and calculate based upon that what the chances would have been of 100% of the horses in Baffert’s large barn ALL requiring said treatment for as valid medical reason. The vet should have had his license taken away and Baffler should have been banned from training. But the CHRB doesn’t really care. The so called investigation was all about show. A farce as we would call it. :-)

      • What in the hell is that supposed to mean? I’ve been in this industry more than 40 yrs. and maybe I’m not as educated as others,…. what makes this issue, the legal meds that had been administered,… have you draw such a conclusion as you have here, and state it as obvious! This statement without any explanation to go along with, begs for something more from you, your comment wasn’t even obviously clear to me! Do explain.

    • azeri1

      There’s a market for it among women wanting to lose weight too. Many people go to great length to obtain it. Serious side effects..can cause osteoporosis & bone brittleness.It can be taxing to the pulmonary system. The very thought of mixing it with Lasix sends shivers down my spine, Hypertensive condition waiting to happen.

      It’s not a drug to be cavalierly dispensed. As with canines, a true hypothyroid condition occurs in less than 10% of equine population on average.

      • Beach

        THANK YOU azeri; we’re reading off the same sheet of music…

    • Susan Salk

      As a lifelong thyroid patient, I find it somewhat alarming that thyroid meds would be administered to animals who do not have a diagnosed thyroid deficiency, which is what I’m concluding here. Correct me if I’m wrong. In humans, too much thyroid can lead to all kinds of troublesome side-effects, in the worst case being heart attack.

      • Beach

        Sorry to say, but worst case being cardiac arrest. :/

    • Ben van den Brink

      Combine that with the use lasix, of which Baffert is an pro and you will get an very serious condition in horses. Stressfactors do the rest.
      Natural training instead of medication feeding will give better results and happier horses.

      • Amanda Altamirano

        Yes, but Bob is too lazy to really train. He doesn’t get to the barn until 8:30 or so.

    • Ben van den Brink

      Thyroid hormone suppression therapy for benign nodules and goiter
      In the past, thyroid hormone suppression therapy was used to prevent benign thyroid nodules and enlarged thyroid glands from growing. More recent evidence has shown that this practice is not effective in regions of the world that have adequate iodine intake (such as the USA). Moreover, excess thyroid hormone can increase the risk or heart rhythm problems and bone loss making the use of thyroxine for suppressing benign thyroid tissue more risky than beneficial in iodine sufficient populations.

  • Max B

    Congrats to the best trainer around on being cleared of any wrong doing. Hope people can move on now and let the man continue his hall of fame career.

    • Steve Gibson

      He wasn’t cleared. Read what Dr Arthur actually said. He said the probability value of these deaths was less than .001 percent! Less than one one thousandth of one percent!! That is your red flag right there!

  • GreggJ

    “Focus will always be on the best care for my horses”. Try again Bob…

    Thyroxine was given to ALL horses in Baffert’s barn. Medication? Hell no, he wasn’t using for health reasons people, wake up already. As a owner told me about Baffert: “Total phony, a crock and unethical, and hates horses. Period. Small man.” Nothing more needs to be said. Believe what you want people, Baffert knows the truth and he has to live with that. Done…

    • Kristie Snively

      Live with it? I bet he doesn’t even care – If he hates horses so much. Anyone who hates horses is the lowest life form in my book. I was sort of half pulling for him until I read this. This, plus his outburst on TVG several months ago have caused me to lose all respect for him. Hopefully he won’t last much longer, gets caught, quits, whatever it takes.

      • Mike Hunt

        If you believe anything that ridicilous on face value I got some magic beans to sell you.

        • GreggJ

          Maybe you can sell those “magic beans” to Baffert to replace Thyroxine?

      • Lost In The Fog

        It’s pretty frightening that you would reach the conclusion that Baffert hates horses based on a third-party hearsay statement on a blog made by someone you don’t even know. Wow!

        • GreggJ

          Sorry Lost, not “third-party hearsay statstatement on a blog”, told to me directly, first-person. Wow is right, keep your blinkers on, ok?

        • AngelaFromAbilene

          While I certainly can’t speak for Bob Baffert, I do know several world champion trainers (across the spectrum of equine events) who do in fact, hate horses. Very much like a successfull professional in any other industry that hates their job.[Pretty sick if you ask me!]

        • Steve Gibson

          Drugging 100% of one’s horses with a thyroid accelerator is more than enough evidence of the douchebag and his corrupt operation not caring about the animals well beings in their charge. If you can show me ANY ethical animal owner or trainer of any sorts that would resort to such tactics as being a person to be deemed ethical let me know, who this is in your imaginary fantasy land! :-)

      • guest

        which outburst? the double your odds one… i loved it lol

    • Biggar

      If you believe Baffert hates horses. You probably would believe many things.

      • GreggJ

        As you would believe the farce that Baffert does what is best for the horses under his care…

    • Raymo

      Well, if you heard it from a guy who knows a guy…it’s got to be true.

  • debbie

    I was actually prescribed that for one of my horses that had laminitis and know that it is a drug that you have to wean a horse off of nothing to fool around with, might even have effects on the kidney’s NOT that I by any means an expert, but WHY INDEED was he giving this medication to every single horse, something is a foot for sure, that many horses dropping dead…. I WOULD never give him MY MILLION DOLLAR HORSE or any horse not with those odds… Some day he will be caught…. While probably others die…. :(

    • Knowitall

      He’s given million dollar horses because the odds are better than average that they will become 10 million dollar horses. The majority of owners paying those thousands in vet bills and supplements every month aren’t in the game to have a stable of expensive pets. They want winner’s circle photos, and probably don’t care if a chemist gets in the shot.

      • avid fan

        What crap. I have interacted with and worked for many owners in the past 3 decades, and have only encountered one who does not personally love and care for his horses. These horses are surrounded by owners, trainers, and staff who love and care for them, and have a vested interest in their continuing health. The prevailing racetrack sentiment is “take care of your horses and they will take care of you.”
        Just because someone has the means to own a top racehorse does not make him a venal jerk. And many wonderful show horses and field hunters, including those I have owned, were “expensive pets” that ran up the track and were placed in loving homes for a second career.

        • Knowitall

          I don’t think anyone is a venal jerk. I think that owners need to be held accountable for the vet and med bills they pay so they can increase their edge to win and increase the value of their horses – instead of trainers taking all the blame. Your utopia is one that I have spoken of in the past, but all that love and care is a business, bud. It isn’t the horse’s health or best interest everyone has in mind when they load them up with all that crap, and Baffert isn’t alone on an island, he is just more successful than most. And for every happy field hunter, there are five more coming to a bad end in Mexico.

          • betterthannothing

            Indeed, knowitall, owners have to be held accountable because an owner-trainer relationship is a perfect match.

          • AngelaFromAbilene

            Win at all cost owners tend to gravitate to win at all cost trainers. As such, the owner should be held equally accountable.

        • betterthannothing

          “Take care of your horses and they will take care of you.”

          Some interpret that excellent principal the right way, with compassion and ethical conduct to heal ailments. Others interpret “taking care” of their horses the wrong way, by using damaging chemicals and treatments to take care of themselves.

    • Steve Gibson

      He was clearly caught this time because 100% of his horses were on the regimen. Obvious 100% doping. And the laughable CHRB response, “legal drugs, no evidence of wrongdoing.” And then idiots scratch their heads and wonder why so many have become turned off by the US pharmacological joke that thoroughbred racing has evolved into.

  • Mario Lauzon

    can you imagine…30 minutes before going on the track they give Tranquilizers and at noon they feed Thyro L (Levo Thyroxine)….the horse worst enemy when he doesn’t need it…Bob Baffert is not the only one…I would say 60% Today’s trainers are giving that Thyro L….most of the horses don’t even need it….same thing in standardbreds…Vet don’t even know which horse will get the powder…inexpensive and bad drug…I was born on a race track .

  • MNS

    Nothing “illegal” found? No evidence of wrongdoing? Just stop medicating the horses (pre-race) with all kind of drugs with dangerous side effects and especially: stop acting surprised when they break down with heart attacks or broken limbs…Simply TRAIN them to race and win, NOT DRUG them to do so.

    • Steve Gibson

      Actually there was evidence of wrongdoing, the CHRB simply wanted to whitewash it over with another lie of theirs. The fact that 100% of the horses in his barn were ALL on thyroid medicine accelerators is the evidence of wrongdoing on both the administering vets part and Baffert’s.

  • Toni

    Any moron is able to determine “there is something wrong here.”

    • betterthannothing

      Perhaps Thyrol L + clenbuterol? + High speed?

      • Beach

        Possible unhappy heart + possible atrial fibb + possible other arrythmias + possible heart block = highly possible cardiac arrest and DEATH.

    • Knowitall

      Well, that explains how the CHRB was able to figure it out!

  • equinemaid

    The physiological response of a horse in training is often a low thyroid level. Training causes changes in the hormone systems that are easily brought back to normal with Thyrol powder. It happens in people too.
    You are barking up the wrong tree. But, something is wrong with the picture for sure. This could be a Dick Frances novel.

    • Beach

      EVERY horse in the barn had a low thyroid level?

    • Beach

      Taking a quick peek at some studies, any link between hypothyroidism and athletic training in humans is unclear and requires more research. I’m only one person, true, and I’ve never done anything like marathons. But I’ve trained significantly through the years and had 4 kids–thus far, my thyroid has worked fine.

  • Karin

    Unbelievable……”no wrongdoing”……you’ve got to be kidding me. The trainer and vet need to be held accountable for the deaths of these horses.

  • Lawrence Vaccarelli

    COVER UP…..these people out west are no better than the SLAUGHTER HOUSES and KILL PENS..,.ITS DISGUSTING AND SAD…..god works in strange ways be scared bobby boy.

    • turffan

      & the EAST coast is better????

    • Mr. moo

      That sir is an under statmemt
      The percentage of positive’s would go through the roof if all runners were tested instead of the first and second placer’s where tested. The fractional percentage op positives could be multiplied by at least

  • Beach

    True that I’m a nurse practitioner for humans, but mammalian physiology, in many ways, is similar across mammalian species. I’m sitting here open-mouthed. Does anyone here have any idea what could happen when you make a “euthyroid”(ie, normal) mammal hyperthyroid with medication, for NOTHING?!! Well, except $$ and winning, of course…

    Off the Thyroid Foundation of Canada website:

    “In some patients, prolonged stimulation of the heart with thyroxine may
    cause an incoordination of the conduction of electrical impulses within
    the heart and atrial fibrillation may ensue. This is where the
    impulses arising in the right atrium, rather than be conducted normally
    into the ventricles, form a short circuit within atria and rapidly go
    round in circles causing incoordinated atrial contraction and loss of
    regular stimulation of the ventricle with an irregular heart beat.”

    Has anyone here ever tried to EXERCISE whilst in A-Fibb? Oh, and while you’re at it, use something like an albuterol inhaler and see how that works for you, too.

    So, as I have read, some 60% of trainers may be making at least some of their horses hyperthyroid?!! You can all bet your buns this was cooked up by someone with medical/veterinary knowledge–“Well, that would be a way of hopping them(horses) up, even at least a bit, and you’re not doing it with illegal drugs that are detectable.” I’ve said before that “First Do No Harm” means nothing to people that profess to CARE for these animals and act like that. I don’t totally blame the trainers for this–the vets, at some point, have probably told them that it’s ok to do this–BUT what you really want is a euthyroid animal to REMAIN euthyroid…even a “little hyperthyroid” could be harmful. Hyperthyroid is like being “a little pregnant”–NO–either you are, or you are not.

    Has anyone here ever been hyperthyroid, or worked with people who are hyperthyroid? Those poor people can feel, and/or be, absolutely NUTS when their thyroid is not functioning properly. Let alone if they would try to exercise like that. I can’t imagine the horses would be much, or any, different.


    Thanks for the reporting, Mr. P. You probably nailed it…notice that when the regimen ceased, or was used less, the “death statistic” dropped or reverted to what it had been. Interesting cause/effect, IMHO.

    • Barry Irwin

      I suffer from hypothyroidism, which means my thyroid does not work, so I take Levothyroxine as a replacement. My doctor has warned me that if I miss a pill, not to double up, because this would increase the pressure on my heart.

      • Beach

        If you have any sort of chemistry background, you will understand what I mean if I say it’s rather a “titration” problem–you have to get it just right. Kudos to your doctor, and hope that you will stay well-controlled. I’m sorry for hypothyroidism, too–before people are corrected there can be all sorts of crazy symptoms–one of which is fatigue all the time and feeling like you’re constantly walking through butter–NO fun. Without my digression here, I’d bet money that Animal Kingdom succeeded and won just fine without unnecessary L-thyroxine.

        • Mimi Hunter

          Was hoping to see you put your face in here. I know I wouldn’t want to ride a horse on a trail ride that was on lasix, L-thyroxine, and steroids let alone race one. Between the effects, the side, and withdrawal effects, about half the TB deaths are covered. I really wish they would stop playing mix and match drugs to find a ‘magic mix’ that works.

          • Beach

            As the scientist that I have been, I cannot even begin to tell you how badly this stinks. Consider even human drug trials, which can be bad enough–sometimes there are adverse side effects; sometimes things go badly. Recently, e.g., my uncle-in-law volunteered for an experimental drug for mesothelioma–something did go wrong and he died, but the drug was his last chance anyway. But even drug trials are CONTROLLED STUDIES–not “Well, let’s give Horsey Drugs A, B, C, and D and just see what happens…” That’s grossly unethical, and the only reason they get away with it is they are doing it on an unprotected animal whose owner may not care.

          • Mimi Hunter

            Like I said – The drug effects, side effects, and withdrawal effects probably account for half the TB deaths by themselves. Do you remember doing a Z-track injection for vitamin K? Could that have caused an abscess like Paynter had? I’m inclined to think it could. And then there are those who think that if one ‘aspirin’ is good, a dozen or so should be better. And how many of these meds they’re using have GI side effects? Colic, impaction, rupture etc. And all too often the owners either don’t care or believe the trainer walks on water, and don’t know enough to know better.

          • Beach

            The only thing I used to see Z-tracked in humans was iron, and I don’t believe they do that anymore; it’s infused now(IV for those reading here who are non-medical), but that has to be done delicately because it has a high rate of anaphylaxis. I believe Paynter had a GI abscess, which could easily have been secondary to his colitis. I’ve said before that I find the stacking of NSAIDs highly questionable–if a human were to take 3 of them, say, as the horse CJ Russell was given(diclofenac, flunixin, phenylbutazone per a poster below), you could bet good money that the human would end up with an impressive bleed. Sometimes people will even bleed with ONE–ie, Toradol was a bit notorious for this; thus, largely, it’s only for extremely short-term use. And it works like a charm–I once had to take a shot of it(in ER) for a rhomboid muscle spasm. Not to mention, one would think that if ANY(human, horse) athlete had to be on 3 NSAIDs at one time, he/she should also be on REST, and NOT in training.

            I once knew a guy who had a back injury and, rather than be seen by his MD, decided to self-medicate with 800 mg of ibuprofen 4x/day. After about 2 months of that, he put himself in acute renal failure. No bleeding in that case, but NSAIDs can also be hard on the kidneys. Luckily his renal failure did resolve, but he was given a serious medical lecture by the doctors that treated him to NEVER stress-test his kidneys like that again. Bottom line, people should not act like idiots with meds, for themselves or animals.

          • Mimi Hunter

            I think the way they play mix and match meds on the horses, it is no surprise the some have bleeding problems – or most of them if you use the amount of Lasix used as a measure. I spent 2 hours one day trying to find primary meds for a friend of mine she was taking about 50 pills and liquids a day – other than a med for pain everything else was for side effects of something else that was for the side effects of something else. It’s not just the trainers and their vets that cause the problem. I do think over use of meds could count for half or more of the TB fatalities. Z-Track could be used to add something to the peritoneal area of abdomen [inside the abdomen but outside all the stuff that’s in there] when you don’t want the injection site to show. I think his abscess was described as being outside the intestines.
            I think it would take a real strict program of out of training testing along with improved on track testing to do any good. And a lot of the ‘cutting edge’ drugs would still be under the radar because they aren’t ‘known’ and can’t be tested for.

          • Beach

            Agreed it would take a lot of integrity, checks-and-balances, and “bird-dogging”.

            A lady I knew took a nap one afternoon and her mother couldn’t wake her up. She never woke up. Later, the forensic investigators found *50* pill bottles under her vanity that her husband knew nothing about. People play “roulette” at their own risk with both themselves and horses. It’s highly unwise, and the medical types need to take care with what they’re prescribing, too. This can be one benefit of your insurance company–if people are running this many meds through their insurance I do know one giant that will call the doctors and ask what the heck is going on.

            I may be wrong, but I thought I heard that Paynter’s abscess was near the cecum. That would be way deeper than Z-track. Z-track is not easy to do, and I’d rather people didn’t do it at all unless absolutely necessary. I learned to do it years ago but never had to do it. I’m not sure much of any human meds are given that way anymore. But I am curious now and will ask a friend of mine who’s a nursing prof. Personally I haven’t seen it done for a long time. I’d bet it’s not at all easy to do it on a horse, even with training–and the harder it is, on the whole, the greater the chance someone will screw it up or break the sterile field. Ugh

          • Mimi Hunter

            I’ve only used Z-Track on a patient who was so full of fluid that the meds would leak back out. If you twitch a horse and he’ll stand still to be castrated, I’m sure he’d stand for an injection – one of those spinal tap needles would probably hit the peritoneal cavity – not sure of the location of the abscess – just that it was outside all the internal structures.
            Another thing I’m concerned about – and it is a little off subject – but only a little. Lately I’ve been hearing about something called a ‘shock therapy machine’ for working on joints. Could this be for a modern version of pin firing? Horses have a habit of repairing themselves if hurt around a problem spot. This used to be done by pushing a red hot ‘pin’ into the skin in the proper place – Standardbred horses being raced were often seen to have a series of scars around a joint, on the knee, up the inside of the cannon bone. Before surgery became common, this was the only way to ‘heal’ bone chips, bowed tendons, splints etc Is that what this is?

          • Beach

            Re: “Shock Therapy Machine” for joints, that could just be a primitive way of someone describing it…I wonder if they’re speaking of something similar for horses that resembles a TENS unit for humans–have you seen one of those?

            I’ve seen or assisted ECT as well for humans but that’s not the kind of thing that promotes joint healing; too much shock. But a lot of people have benefited from a TENS unit. Re: this “Shock Therapy Machine”, you’d probably have to ask your vet. You got me… :-)

            PS–A TENS unit would be nothing like pin-firing; the patient feels it but I never had anyone be really uncomfortable from it, and setting it up is pretty easy and benign. The little currents feel like “pins and needles” or like the heat one might feel from an electrolysis needle, just a lot of them, on-and-off, at one time. People never really cared; sometimes people got sick of it and how it felt but it was usually prescribed for intermittent use anyway–“Wear it for X hours, take it off for Y”…but I don’t know how a horse would feel about it, though. Their hide is thicker, but the TENS unit can feel pretty weird. I don’t know how they would take it–the TENS needs to be strapped over the area for healing…I suppose you could put it over ankles or knees and then vet-wrap it all for a time. Most people I knew used it post-back surgery…

          • Mimi Hunter

            I’ve had tens units on – I’m so afraid of electric that my BP gets into stroke range very quickly [250/175]. I avoid them. I won’t have the surgery done. This shock therapy thing was mentioned on one or two of these reports. The impression I got was that it is something a little drastic – one comment said they’d require a three week rest after its use. Stewards need to be informed of it’s use. Stuff like that – I’ll go looking for it.

          • Beach

            Oh, yeah, 3-week rest is definitely not TENS–sounds like you’re describing ECT for joints(?). I have seen ECT work in severe depression cases, but I believe it’s treated as a “last resort” for the patients that do it; and it is not pretty to do or watch; and requires heavy sedation/anesthesia. There’s no way I’d sign on board for that with horses, unless there’s been some serious controlled trials/research re: efficacy by someplace like New Bolton and co.

            I have not read about it like you have, so I would not know what to ask about–BUT, how interested or adventurous are you?!! :-) Track down the phone number or e-mail of the gentleman at New Bolton who treated Barbaro–they’re most likely the people on the cutting edge of Equine Orthopedic Research–send him an e-mail or leave him a phone message…I’ve called academic centers for “human stuff” and have had people call me back. My spouse has a saying from the Navy–“Skip the monkey, and go to the ringmaster”. Many times the ringmasters are happy to discuss their work. Big thoughts/prayers–and no TENS for you, not if that is the BP response… :/

          • Mimi Hunter

            Yes, New Bolton would be a good place to start. Horses can do a kind of weird thing to leg injuries – and it’s been a long time since I studied up on it – say there’s a bone chip in a knee – my old books said that if you took a red hot sharp ‘pin’ and put it just through the skin around the chip, the horse’s immune response would heal the bone chip along with the burns. It was called ‘pin firing’ – it’s been mentioned a couple of times recently, but I always had it associated with harness horses, and I’ve seen the pattern of burns on some knees – usually a diamond pattern of small scars. If this machine they are talking about is a way to ‘fire’ horses without the hot iron, it gets a little scary because of the level of injury you have to induce One other thing the old books mentioned was that you had to treat both legs the same – both fore or both hind – in exactly the same way – something about the way they think. ie If you cast one leg for an injury, you have to cast the other leg the same way – I’m still looking for where I saw it.

          • Steve Gibson

            Drug boy Baffert has never been about ethics. He’s a golden boy protected by a corrupt system just as Asmussen, O’Neil and a slew of others are.

          • AngelaFromAbilene

            Agree completely with you. I wouldn’t throw a leg over anything that had any drug coursing through it. The tried and true “Magic Mix” is good feed, actual TRAINING and TIME when something goes wrong. Why more “trainers” don’t implement this is simply beyond me. Healthy, happy horses make money. A junky burns out each and every time, no matter the species.

          • Mimi Hunter

            If Lasix was banned, the trainers here may have to go back the tried and true way of improving wind [breathing] in their horses: a gradually increasing amount of exercise. The ones that have a bad way of going won’t make it and cull out. Healthy horses used to be described as ‘Sound of wind and limb’. And ones that were injured and healed properly were considered ‘serviceably sound’ Now they’re so filled up with drugs that you can’t tell the difference until they breakdown.

          • AngelaFromAbilene

            The key word there is “trainers.” Most of the “trainers” today couldn’t train Lassie to come home. Take their drugs away and they’re done. They’d be standing in the welfare line.

          • Mimi Hunter

            What the drugs do is give them a shortcut that gives more of their owners a taste of racing. The horses don’t cull out – they often crash. But the owner is hooked and wants to try again. It’s called job security. And not all of the trainers are in this category – in fact I’d say that most enjoy what they’re doing and do the best they can for the horses in their care.

  • Karin

    I made my comment earlier….but wanted to thank Ray Paulick for his coverage of this story. Something is so wrong with all of this.

  • Beach


    Giving thyroxine to a horse with normal thyroid function IS wrongdoing; unless it’s, as Debbie says below, given for some other medical reason like adjunct treatment for laminitis, etc.

    I have seen hyperthyroid patients, especially women, want to remain hyperthyroid because their weight stays down, or they lose weight. I have seen hypothyroid women be a little accidentally overcorrected with their thyroid medication; in essence made HYPERthyroid and ask their doctors to stay that way, because their weight stays down. In all cases the doctors, instead, recommended the PROPER treatment–treatment for the hyperthyroid; or, “No, we need to work to keep you euthyroid. If you want to keep your weight down, here’s a referral for dietary and fitness counseling”. To do otherwise, in either case, would be MALPRACTICE.

    But, if thyroxine is given to a horse that doesn’t need it, and the horse drops dead, who’s going to sue the trainer or the vet for malpractice and wrongful death?!! I’m not fan of a litigious society, but this is why lawyers, in the human medical world, are such a deterrent. But when the cat’s away…???!!!

    • ASL

      Why won’t Mr. Baffert comment on why he was giving his horses drugs that weren’t needed? And why did he stop giving that drug after he had so many deaths? The two seem connected, but I would love to be corrected. If there was a legitimate basis for giving all of his horses thyroxine, the public would like to know.

  • Doc

    You could call me biased because I claimed a horse from Baffert (prior to this investigation) that dropped dead a few weeks later, and he and his wife seem like nice people, in general, but as a horse trainer, he’s a butcher.

    • Karen Tracy

      For decades it has been common knowledge that it was inadvisable to claim off several So Cal trainers. Sorry you had to find out the hard way.




      F U little jerry

  • Dawn

    you guy are making way to many allegations if all this horses died from heart attacks they would have found that!! Duh! Maybe you don’t like Baffert thats fine but at least use something reasonable against him…..

    • azeri1

      In 2 necro reports, there was edema in tissue surrounding adrenals…in 3 yr olds? hmmmmm. I am not accusing but I am questioning why a “healthy” 3 yr old equine athlete would have fluid accumulating in the adrenal region.

    • Steve Gibson

      100% on a thyroid accelerant and 7 deaths that the CHRB’s Dr Arthur himself said had a .001 percent probability of occurring. Sounds like some pretty damning evidence unless you believe all 100% of the horses in his barn magically had hypothyroidism at the same time????

  • easygoer8

    Did anyone really expect this board to find any wrongdoing?

    • nu-fan

      Easygoer8: Glad to see that you noticed the same thing I did: Where is the criticism of the CHRB in all of this? What are they going to do? Anything? And, if they do happen to investigate, will they actually provide information and conclusions to the outside world?

  • Knowitall

    It’ll be interesting to watch the evolution of the Baffert Legacy going forward. Will he recover from the tarnish and become a beloved elder statesman winning classics in 15-20 years like Lukas, or will the internet age he lives in keep him pinned in the muck? Hey wait, wait…will there even be a sport called horse racing in 15-20 years?

    It does seem obvious that a full cocktail of medications and supplements had to be the most likely culprit here even if the necropsies don’t reveal the exact cause.

    Maybe a racetrack vet would be willing to answer Ray’s questions about the widespread use of thyroid meds on the track, and the presumed benefits, and why so many meds are given to all horses in a barn instead of just the horses that need it? Is it just easier, and keeps the vets in business and the owners even more in the hole?

    This Baffert Case covers so many things that are just so wrong about the game now…

    • betterthannothing

      Lukas is only viewed as a beloved elder statesman by those who don’t care about how many horses he has destroyed on the way to make himself famous with horses able to survive the “program”.

      • Guest

        The only thing the beloved elder butcher statesman accomplished was to teach those up and coming trainers under him was how to cheat and drug horses and get away with it. Back in the day, those of us who knew Lukas and worked for him know what really went on. He destroyed more good horses than more honest trainers will ever have in a lifetime. Then he lost his wealthy owners and you didn’t hear anything about him for years. Now he is back with a vengeance as he has the owners and stock to do it. Where do you think all these speedster TB trainers came from? Years ago, who cared less how fast a 2 yr. old could work 1/16 or 1/8 under tack? That means the horse would have had to have been broke as a late yearling and pushed from there. The tutelage of an ex-QH elder statesman.
        And by the way, did anyone read the PR on frog juice the other day? There are a thousand different forms to be mixed and a thousand different ways it can affect a horse—not only pain but speed them up to where they don’t even know where they are. Their heart literally blows up and there is absolutely NO detection for any of the myriad types of frog juice made at these compounds. Who knows what Baffert’s horses had? Sure could have been more than one thing.

  • guest

    So curious … what is everyone’s (Thyro-L) theory about why only Baffert horses stabled at Hollywood Park died, given that – according to Arthur today – ALL of Baffert’s horses were on Thyro-L, irrespective of where they were stabled? Only the B-string suffer from consequences of the drug?? No answers is right. The clustering is not only Baffert – it is Hollywood Park + Baffert.

  • greg

    I still believe that Baffert uses EPO on those horses as well as others, i am not an expert on testing and since EPO greatly increases red blood cells which carry oxygen to the heart it is probably difficult to test for red blood cells unless you can test parts per ??? or the viscosity etc. It is expensive thus used only on expensive horses in big races for owners with deep pockets, hhmm describes Bafferts barn pretty closely. I would like to know if there is a test, an accurate test for EPO and if it was administered to all his horses, dead and alive. I don’t believe Baffert uses much else illegal so it’s EPO or he’s pretty clean. Anyone know???

  • avid fan

    WOW, I guess Ray didn’t read the actual report, or his bias clearly leads him to summarize it to reflect his (Ray’s) point of view. Dr. Arthur’s report notes thyroxine usage:

    “[Thyroxine] is fairly commonly used at the racetrack…However, the blanket prescribing of thyroxine to all horses in Baffert’s barn does appear unusual. In a sense, the medication was treated more as a supplement than a medication. Thyroxine is most commonly used by veterinarians to assist weight loss in overweight horses, especially when they come in from the farm.”

    BUT CONCLUDES: “There is no factually based explanation as to why these sudden deaths clustered in Baffert’s barn at Hollywood Park, and not at any other tracks where Baffert stables, races, and trains horses with similar training and veterinary practices.”

    AND: “There is no evidence whatsoever CHRB rules or regulations have been violated or any illicit activity played a part in the seven sudden deaths.”
    No doping, no illicit activity.
    While a discussion of what medication used in ALL BARNS and ALL RACETRACKS is definitely warranted, the Paulick Report coverage just can’t let go of the desperate need to prove Baffert wrong. IMHO, this reeks of personal vendetta, possibly because Baffert very freely states his opinions of what goes on in horse racing–and with horse racing personalities–as well.
    Those of us who experienced the old, pre-rehab Paulick are understandably wary of the shiny, new “drug warrior” Paulick who seems to direct a great deal of ire towards Baffert personally. Stick to the real issue–medication standardization. If and when Baffert really does get pinned with something, by all means cover that as well. If Baffert really is Lance Armstrong, it will come out.

    • Name

      It will come out.


      thanks hope the check cleared:))))

    • Knowitall

      I think you need a Zanax. Will your vet prescribe?
      That said, agree that it is not entirely fair to point fingers at one guy when the entire sport has trainers doing the same thing and worse in some cases. Then again, and I think this is the point, none of them had seven sudden deaths in their entire career, much less in less than two years.

    • Steve Roman

      You need to brush up on your understanding of statistics. Dr. Arthur said the “probability value” of the occurrence was “less than .001 percent…” The failure to isolate a cause or place the blame is not the point at all. The statistics speak for themselves and they are a huge red flag.

    • Beach

      I once attended a 3-hour, comprehensive lecture on thyroid conditions given by an eminent Virginia endocrinologist. He was very clear that HYPERTHYROIDISM IS NOT TO BE USED FOR WEIGHT LOSS. He was literally tired of the female patients in his office wanting him to “leave it that way so we don’t gain weight” or overcorrecting hypothyroidism “just a little” so the woman could keep her weight down. His answer to all this was routinely, “NO, NO, NO, HELL NO, AND ABSOLUTELY NOT”. I’d be surprised if it was truly any different for horses…

  • Chris Lowe

    DRF is not allowing comments on this story, so readers are venting their reactions on another Santa Anita story’s comment section.

    • Knowitall

      Hey at least DRF let everyone read the story for free:-)

  • Jttf

    so Arthur thinks it is okay for vets to treat all horses for thyroid problems, even if the horses dont have a thyroid problem. This happens everyday in America with the use of lasix. How come vets will not take in consideration or mention the bad side effects of meds ? Wasn’t zenyatta’s owner, moss, a chrb board member for 8 recent years? Will the chrb at least list thyroid meds as a performance enhancer ? can we have a list of the vets and trainers who use these harmful meds ? So why doesn’t the daily racing form let anyone comment on this subject ? Are they protecting baffert, Arthur and the chrb ? Do they think it is okay for horses to die ? No wrong doing here.
    Is this what horse racing is all about ?

    • Beach

      Again the disclaimer that I’ve studied people medicine, not horses. BUT, unless it is documented that a horse is being treated for a lab-confirmed hypothyroid condition, it would make sense that making a euthyroid horse hyperthyroid with medication COULD EASILY be performance enhancement–but IMHO, that’s costly. You don’t want a person walking around hyperthyroid, for whatever reason. I can’t imagine it’s any different for horses, especially conditioning and conditioned athletes.

  • Eric

    Is there evidence of other trainers using Thyro-L to treat their horses or is Bob the only one?

    • Steve Gibson

      Yes, many others do it. Assmussen had 100% of his horses stabled in New York being given regular doses of Thyrol-L as well.

  • Andrew A.

    From the website: Thyro – L Thyro-L is a synthetic thyroid hormone used as a substitute for thyroid hormone when the horse is not producing enough.

    This product is currently on manufacturer backorder




    Active Ingredient: Levothyroxine sodium

    Thyro-L is a synthetic thyroid hormone used as a substitute for thyroid hormone
    when the horse is not producing enough, or to correct conditions associated
    with hypothyroidism. Each pound of Thyro-L powder contains 1 g of
    levothyroxine sodium (T4); each teaspoonful contains 12 mg of levothyroxine sodium
    (T4). Each 1 pound jar contains approximately 83 teaspoonsful. Available
    in SmartPaks, or in a 1 pound jar or 10 pound bucket.

  • Richard C

    Cut to the chase — if this wasn’t an influential trainer in an environment of being overseen by those who could easily be classified as friends – and with all involved understanding how bad news can scalp the bottom line of millions upon millions of dollars – justice would have been swift and brutal.

  • Bronco Billy

    I wonder why DRF disabled comments on their Baffert story? They usually allow comments on their news stories. It seems like DRF is afraid to tackle this story.

    • Andrew A.

      Far too many people believe Baffert is bigger than the game and he is not. From whaqt I’ve been told he threatens journalists with not giving interviews and also threatens to cause advertisers to pull their ads.

      In time B.B. will be the Lance Armstrong of Horse Racing.

  • Fred A. Stair

    To bad OSCAR is gone, at least his horses didn’t die or break down during races. And yes, you BETTER NOT claim off of him, the horse was DONE at least for a long time!

  • swiss305

    He and his owners are shrewd businessmen. He knows how to get the most return out of their investments. That’s the extent of the emotional involvement. The horses are merely tools and expendible ones at that. If they die, they’re insured, so why not push them hard? Seems to be a win at any cost philosophy.

    • Knowitall

      Actually only one of the seven that died was insured. But yes the push them at all costs seems to have been too prevalent in terms of supplement cocktails. For it to all happen at one track barn might mean someone else in the barn pushed too hard or in error, though. On the flip side, and to be fair, Baffert gives his horses time off when they need it and brings many of them back. But that’s not a very sexy story and way too close to the reality of all humans. Most of us are walking talking contradictions.

  • arnold holtzman

    “A racetrack veterinarian contacted by the Paulick Report said the practice of routinely administering Thyro-L was not unusual.”

    • betterthannothing

      Not unusual does not mean ethical or beneficial to horses, just another drug vets peddle.

    • AngelaFromAbilene

      That is EXACTLY why I will not use a “racetrack” vet. My local vet takes care of my racehorses. To him, they are horses first and race horses second. Don’t misunderstand me, I know many fine track vets but they seem to be conditioned to get the horse back on the track in the quickest time possible, long term effects be damned. I attribute this to the vets being pushed by the trainers who are pushed by their owners to see a quicker return on their investment.

      • betterthannothing

        “I attribute this to the vets being pushed by the trainers who are
        pushed by their owners to see a quicker return on their investment.”

        Shame on trainers who choose owners who don’t give a damn about horses and riders. Shame on owners who choose trainers to deliver victory at all costs, money and ego gratification over fair competition, safety and life. Shame on vets who choose drug money over professional and ethical conduct, compassion and pity toward horses and their riders. Shame on racing for tolerating abuse, doping and a high man-made catastrophic-injury rate.

        • AngelaFromAbilene

          The whole thing is a g?*&$#% crying f&#@*^# SHAME! [I must watch my language as the word police seem to be following me.]

  • Burton Ship

    When I was training, I had the BEST vets & up-to-date medications to help get horses to the winner’s circle

  • Ben Hogan

    I trained for a vet once who said he blood tested every horse that came home from training to his farm.He said every horse had little or no thyroid count.Meaning that horses at this fitness level have no thryroid count.This he said is NORMAL…I have used thyroL on a lot of horses but never daily as some trainers do now routinely.I have talked to trainers who call it the best legal hop there is.I will also say this, being in NM for a while I found that many horses there died in large numbers in short periods of time while trainers were trying to find the right balance of using clenbutoral with frog juice.Isnt Baffert originally from NM and still runs horses there?

    • Beach

      If this is true I wouldn’t say it’s “normal”, I’d say it’s explainable. And if the thyroid levels are low they can be corrected, but that also needs to be monitored with bloodwork, to make sure you’re not teetering over into making the horse hyperthyroid, either, with the medication. L-thyroxine, lasix, clenbuterol, anti-inflammatories, anti-arthritics, steroids, and even the appalling frog juice in some, and those are just the ones I’m naming. Boy, if the horses were germs and you put them in a lab, they could just be Petri dishes and you’d see what you could grow… :/ Who cares what I disapprove of, but I disapprove of making them “lab rats” for mixing various pharmaceuticals with vigorous exercise/training, and basically seeing what happens. “Oops, sorry about that one; fatal mistake…” Appalling

  • HogHater

    I’m guessing that the CHRB investigators are on their way to Tallahassee to help with the Jameis Winston FSU situation.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    I admit I don’t do horses in practice, but as a vet we almost never use a thyroid supplement unless it is medically warranted based on blood work. There are way too many problems you can have with using it in a healthy animal. I cannot think how it could cause weight gain as a thyroid supplement increases metabolism which will cause a breakdown of tissue for energy, regardless if that tissue is fat or muscle. While granted it is solely coincidental it was interesting to me that there have been no more issues since he stopped the supplement.

    • betterthannothing

      ShelterDoc, could a potential combination of thyroid supplement + Clenbuterol (original or a stronger compounded version) trigger a heart attack quicker? + furosemide? Other drugs?

      • Beach

        We try not to get into “absolutes” in medicine but my vote would be on a big fat hairy YES…

  • Roisin

    Giving drugs to horses whether they need them or not is a form of veterinary “malpractice”. The problem is the drug culture in racing from “routine” Lasix to Thyroxine and who knows what in between plus the added risk of drug interactions as well as undisereable side effects. Thyroxine can cause heart arrhythmia problems which can be serious and Lasix upsets the electrolyte balance and so on…
    I find the whole situation disgusting . I wonder what other “commonly” used drugs there are?
    And what is wrong with cutting back on feed and increasing exercise for overweight horses instead of dosing them with Thyroxine ?? Racing is too into the “quick fix” . There is a price to pay for that and it is the horse that pays !

    • Roisin

      PS It seems medications and their use in healthy animals is, to say the least, out of control. Trainers are “practicing” veterinary medicine without a license. Vets. are giving the nod to drugs in horses when medically there is no need for them which, as I already said, is malpractice. And where is the American Veterinary Association on all this ? Is there any oversight ? It seems not. The industry is outside what is the norm in the rest of society concerning cruelty issues, misuse of medications and veterinary medicine. I believe there are too many abuses in the industry and very little uniformity from state to state for it to survive without a major make over.

      • AngelaFromAbilene

        I will completely agree with your statement. However, if the trainer asks a vet for something and that vet won’t give it, there are a host of other track vets that will. [I blame this on owners that push trainers for a quick return and the trainers then push the vets. I went to vet school and I take seriously “first do no harm.” Unfortunately, track vets have a “first do no harm” approach to their bank accounts!]
        {Off topic: a few weeks ago you doubted and argued the only horses being dumped are done so by the “killers.” There is a horse that was turned loose here recently and was taken to the local sale barn for the 12/16 horse sale. It was not dumped by our local “killer.” You know where it’s headed? Don’t believe me, call the Taylor County Texas SO or the sale barn. It is a rampant, unreported problem. This horse can probably be bought for $100 or less but it’ll cost a whole lot more to rehab it and then it still may not be a suitable mount.}

        • Roisin

          AngelaFromAbilene, The vet. is the one that should not compromise his/her profession but one “bad apple” in the lot will spoil the rest.
          No, I am not the person who “doubted and argued the only horses being dumped are done so by the killers”. I did say there is not a “dumping” problem in my area which is a long way from Texas. You have me confused with someone else. But I am sorry there is so much “dumping” in your area.

          • AngelaFromAbilene

            My apologies. I really wish I was in area with responsible owners. I’m getting tired and going broke trying to take care of everybodies cast-offs. Many, many years ago, I worked (shortly) for a vet dubbed “Dr. Death” on the backside because he could hop a horse like you wouldn’t believe. The problem was, they were likely going to drop dead after crossing the wire. Sadly, there are a LOT of “track” vets that are just like him. The prospect of losing money because they want to put the horse first pushes them to do whatever the “trainer” wants.

          • Roisin

            Yes indeed, it is a sad situation. I can relate to what you said re being tired and going broke trying to take care of “castoffs”. I often thought, simplistically of course, there are 2 kinds of people those who cerate problems and those who try to solve the problems. The latter is pretty difficult to deal with and can be very unrewarding at times. It would be a lot easier to just walk away. Best wishes to you.

          • AngelaFromAbilene

            Thank you and best wishes to you.

  • Dobeplayer

    The thyroid meds for my hypothyroid dog is a prescription drug. Is it different for horses? And why isn’t it a violation for a veterinarian to prescribe it for an animal – any animal – that has no medical need for it?

    • Beach

      Because somehow, it seems to me that state veterinary boards are turning a blind eye. If any human doctor did this sort of thing to an adolescent human athlete, you can bet that he/she would get reported, probably sued, fired, and/or lose his/her license. This has been my beef for a while–whether you are a human or animal health care provider, YOU ARE TAUGHT BETTER. But I guess some fall right off that wagon when they note whatever the payoffs are for them.

      And yes the meds are prescription–but of course the vets have veterinary pharmaceutical access. E.g. also, if my pets need a med that is non-formulary(ie, they don’t have it) at the vets’ pharmacy, you can take the Rx to a “human” pharmacy and they will honor it, if they stock or can order the med.

      • Roisin

        I had a situation where I took a Thoroughbred that had never made it to the track. He had some problems but nothing serious. However, I asked the owner to request the vet. records. The vet. ignored the request. I then had my vet. request the records but again no response. Finally, I had an attorney write citing the state law concerning records release. The records were soon released and among other things the dosage and frequency of de worming was astonishing. When I questioned this I was told it was because the trainer” wanted it”. I mentioned to the vet. the professional should educate the lay person in such matters. My answer was “we try”! Obviously the trainer could get another vet. to comply if the original one refused. There was no record of any egg count. No wonder many de wormers are no longer effective.
        I know that is just a small example of the trainer and vet. issue but it does illustrate the power of the trainer in terms of how they can vet. shop to get what they want. There has to be a way to fix this.

        • Beach

          It’s appalling–lots of great vets out there but some obviously need to learn the word “NO” and figure out that sometimes less money is enough, and integrity and good care matter more. I’d live in a sinkhole before my lifestyle was elevated on the backs of abused, exploited, or dead animals.

        • Steve Gibson

          In all honesty it is often the vet that is just as corrupt as the trainer. The vets make loads of $$$$ dispensing drugs. You’d be surprised how much of their income literally comes from being a daily dispensary of drugs on the backstretch. Years ago I interned with a vet in NY on the track, who each Sunday had a routine he referred to as “Adequan day.” I would literally sit there for a good half hour to hour breaking open vial after vial after vial of Adequan and loading syringes to be administered to literally dozens and dozens and dozens of horses. It was literally looked upon as almost like dispensing candy. That was just Adequan. Add in the daily Lasix rituals, and other nonsense and it was basically a game of pharmacology and has only gotten worse.

    • Steve Gibson

      Today’s current US horse racing scene is very much like the European Pro human cycling race association was years ago before a guy named Lance Armstrong and Festina etc.. They are living in a continual denial state that their sport has essentially been taken over by drugs and cheats. And just like the cycling orgs made the mistake of thinking they were “protecting” the integrity of their sport by pretending the cheating was not rampant and did not actually exist, US horse racing seems to be doing down the exact same road over the past 2 decades. They are so scared of exposing all the cheating that is going on that they essentially turn a blind eye to obvious cheating and doping. And this was as obvious as it gets. 100% of the horses being treated with a thyroid accelerator. Pure folly. I would have loved someone to actually question the CHRB and say, “hey, where are all the lab tests showing all these horses were hypothyroid in nature”???? Of course, they never would have been able to provide such documents because it wasn’t about a valid medical purpose, it was about cheating and once again covering it up by those charged with enforcing the so called rules. Arthur should be ashamed of himself.

  • Beach

    No, thyroids can have “issues” all on their own; It doesn’t have much to do with what the person is “doing”…

    • Leilani1234

      Did you not read I said most? Thyroid issues are commonly caused by bad habits! The majority of thyroid issues can be controlled by diet and exercise. I have yet to meet a person on a good diet and with great physical health complain of thyroid issues. You probably believe obesity is a disease as well.

      • Beach

        I think you need to do some serious reading on thyroid disease and its causes. ANYBODY can develop thyroid problems, regardless of their diet or general physical health. Obesity is an entirely different, irrelevant subject.

        • Leilani1234

          No I don’t need to do any reading on thyroid disease. I’m talking majority if you cannot read properly. Anybody can get lung cancer too but the majority are going to be smokers. And the majority of thyroid issues are caused by what I’ve stated. Period!
          Your whole argument is moot and for whatever reason you think you need to argue is retarded. The point is Baffert was giving every single horse a supplement or drug they didn’t need. Period. And the board that let him off the hook is like the FDA telling us GMO food is safe. I call BS on it.

          • Beach

            WebMD has a basic, simple outline re: the causes of thyroid disease.

  • betterthannothing

    Thank you, Beach and Doc.

    • Beach

      btn, I would ask a vet that you trust, especially one with solid knowledge of pharmacokinetics. Of course, I’ve already said here that much of what I speak pertains to humans, not horses, but humans and horses are both mammals. It stands to reason that thyroid “replacement” is indicated in hypothyroidism, but not to the point that it then makes one hyperthyroid. Thus, thyroid “supplement” has its uses. Are there people out there with a combination of asthma(that require albuterol treatments for humans), thyroid problems, and something like congestive heart failure that would require the use of Lasix? SURE, but that is rather like a medical high-wire act, and requires some delicate, watchful pharmaceutical management. Overuse of thyroid medication can overstimulate the heart; albuterol tends to do that anyway; the use of Lasix usually requires potassium supplementation(electrolyte depletion or excess can have adverse effects on the heart; and so on, and so on.

      To conclude, I think I can tell you that I don’t know any human athletes in training who are on all the above medication, and perhaps others–not if they want to remain upright, walking, and breathing. Sometimes, sadly, those 3 things are about the only things a person with all those problems can manage–not fun…

      When I worked floor nursing and people were hospitalized for asthma, pneumonia, etc. and they were on breathing treatments, those were usually administered via nebulizer 4x/day. And afterwards, the people could usually breathe better but I felt so sorry for them–nervous, jittery, irritable, unable to relax. What they would want(ok, rather facetious here) was a bunch of Xanax that we couldn’t give to them–the LAST thing they would have wanted to do was run around a track–unless they were in the mood to flirt with cardiac arrest. Ugh

  • FastBernieB

    A probability of one in a thousand. Statistically it is extremely abnormal. So is getting hit by lightening or winning the lottery and these events occur regularly. Maybe it was just an unfortunate coincidence (and no, I’m not a fan of BB)

    • Mimi Hunter

      They nothing was done in split hairs a little if you read carefully – their conclusion was that nothing was done to violate CHRB rules. There is a subtle difference.

      • Steve Gibson

        Their conclusion was bogus. The very fact he had 100% of his horses on Thyrol-L and could not provide proof of a legit reason for administering it to every horse based upon lab tests was clearly doping. They just chose to turn the other cheek as they always have done for Baffert and others,

    • Steve Gibson

      Less than one in a thousand. Arthur stated that it was .001 percent chance of happening. That’s one one thousandth of one percent, which is really one in 100,000.

  • Blikemike

    Cobalt which increase the production of EPO, which then increases the capability of red blood cells to carry more oxygen to muscle cells . Cobalt also decreases the production of thyroxin from the thyroid which is why you need to add Thyroid L to the diet, which if not controlled and regulated, can causes a sudden Death!!!!

  • The Realist

    CHRB would do nothing to compromise the trainer with all the right owners and horses to fill all the races that already have such short fields. This guy gets away with murder in SoCal…..pun intended. I really don’t know if BB is responsible for the deaths of his horses or not. If not him, then who? My point is; Bob does what he wants, when he wants, because it’s HIS “behind” being kissed by the CHRB for decades now. They were NEVER going to throw BB under the bus! …… matter what!

  • Name

    I am going to study the report, the necropsy report, talk to some MDs, talk to some vets, and write an open letter to Rick Arthur, the CHRB, and anyone else who should be stepping up instead of side stepping. I encourage others to write to the CHRB and others who can do make a positive difference, should they so desire.

    • nu-fan

      Let us know if you have any success with getting a reply from the CHRB. I haven’t.

  • Guest

    Looking at just one
    of the necropsy reports, the one for CJ Russell, it tells me everything I need
    to know about what kind of “horseman” Bob Baffert is not. The report says (not taken out of context,
    nothing omitted from my synopsis for sinister reasons) that CJ Russell’s corpse
    paracute, multifocal and locally extensive;
    moderate to marked; PULMONARY EDEMA…
    acute hemorrhage; HEPATIC CONGESTION,
    MARKED, panlobular, diffuse with separation of the hepatic cords; RENAL CONGESTION… diffuse, marked; URINE: nandrolone, methocarbamol, diclofenac,
    flunixin, phenylbutazone and furosemide: SYNOVIAL FLUID: diclofenac and phenylbutazone; LIVER:
    phenylbutazone and clenbuterol.” Rick
    Arthur being the CHRB’s creation and resident pimp, I’m not surprised that he
    declared no wrongdoing.

    But what rational horseman can look at this mess and say that Baffert has done
    no wrong? As far as I’m concerned, Baffert
    is the same little weasel he was back in New Mexico. The same little weasel he was a bit later on
    after he and Pegram developed their enduring bromance thanks to the Pegram
    fortune, and Baffert began screwing around on his first wife. She may have forgiven him for his disgusting
    displays of vulgar infidelity, but I haven’t, and neither have plenty of others.

    Cheaters cheat. Liars lie. Leopards do not change their spots. In what universe is it ethical to train on a combination
    of nandrolone, methocarbamol,
    diclofenac, flunixin, clenbuterol and bute—plus whatever else the vet
    didn’t find? As for all Baffert’s owners being all loyal, I
    daresay Aaron Jones would disagree, as would one who despises him but remains in
    the Baffert barn for reasons I am not free to disclose.

    LJ Broussard

  • Birdy2

    Looking at just one of the necropsy reports, the one for CJ Russell, tells me everything I need to know about what kind of horseman Baffert is not. The report indicates that CJ Russell’s corpse showed: “MYOCARDIAL DEGENERATION, paracute, multifocal and locally intensive; VALVULAR ENDOCARDITIS, mild, subacute/chronic; petechial and eccymotic hemorrhages, moderate to marked; PULMONARY EDEMA… acute hemorrhage; HEPATIC CONGESTION, MARKED, PANLOBULAR, DIFFUSE WITH SEPARATION OF THE HEPATIC CORDS; RENAL CONGESTION… diffuse; urine [contains] nandrolone, methocarbamol, diclofenac, flunixin, phylbutazone and furosemide; synovial fluid [contains] diclofenac and phenylbutazone; LIVER [shows traces of] phenylbutazone and clenbuterol.”

    What rational horseman can look at this mess and say that Baffert has done no wrong? As far as I’m concerned, he’s the same little weasel he was back in New Mexico. The same little weasel he was after he hooked into Pegram’s money and began screwing around on his first wife. She may have forgiven him for his disgusting displays of vulgar infidelity from one coast to the other, but I haven’t. Cheaters cheat. Liars lie. And leopards do not change their spots. In what universe is it ethical or humane to train on a combination of NANDROLONE, METHOCARBAMOL, DICLOFENAC, FLUNIXIN, CLENBUTEROL AND BUTE plus whatever else didn’t show up in the dead gelding’s tox screen? As for all Baffert’s owners being loyal, I daresay Aaron Jones would disagree, as would one who despises him but remains in the Baffert barn for reasons I am not free to disclose.
    Regarding for Rick Arthur’s pronouncements, what else would anyone expect? He’s the CHRB’s creation and is as morally bankrupt as the mega-barn trainers he pimps for.
    LJ Broussard

    • Beach

      Jesus…words fail. It’s true that any mammal can be born with cardiac anomalies but that is some very bad stuff to find in a young horse. I believe this horse was no older than 4 when he died. The valvular endocarditis alone could probably give anything or anyone fatal arrhythmias. Do I know any people who RUN with valvular endocarditis? Um, NO–not unless they want to die.

      I’d have to see other tests but this suggests that the horse was either in, or on the brink, of liver failure. With at least 7 drugs in his system, his liver probably had way too much to do. SICKENING

    • Beach

      PS–I will “pile on”. Nandrolone is a steroid. If you mess with an animal’s liver, it will probably have clotting/bleeding issues. Diclofenac, flunixin, and bute are all NSAIDs. Overuse of NSAIDS easily can cause bleeding too–I’ve taken issue with this brand of “stacking” before. Methocarbamol/Robaxin is a muscle relaxant. Furosemide is, of course, Lasix/Salix and then there’s clenbuterol, used like a steroid because of its ability to burn fat and build lean muscle mass.

      Yes, IMHO here you are looking at a serious case of polypharmacy and you are giving this liver/system an awful lot to do, while it’s also being an athlete in training. You’ve got to be kidding me…LJ Broussard, thank you for the intell.

    • val

      by the way all these drugs have mysteriously disappeared from the report since this morning

  • AngelaFromAbilene

    Why in the hell would EVERY horses in the barn be given ANY drug as SOP? My god, what ever happened to TRAINING horses.

  • Zdenek Prochazka

    There is very little doubt in my mind that within this “sport”, or should we call it legalized business of gambling utilizing immature animals, there are very few trainers and vets who would not administer anything to their horses in the bid of winning the race – and the big $$$. We can only hope, that our beautiful sport is not going the same direction.

  • Janet

    The answer is so simple. Horses developed hyperthyroidism after getting DAILY un-needed doses of L-thyroxine (!!!absurd!!) That alone probably wasn’t the cause of them dropping dead. But that condition with the combination of OTHER drugs (even the common ones administered routinely) led to heart damage. It’s that simple. Glad he stopped drugging his horses with L-thyroxine. Unbelievable.

  • WonderAgain

    Funny. There was no ability to comment on similar article on the DRF website. I knew this would not be the case with the Paulick Report site. Plenty of comments to read through. Should be interesting.

  • Pbchi

    I am an endocrine surgeon so have some knowledge as to appropriate use of thyroxine and offer the following 1 there is no safe or legitimate use for giving hormone supplements to any horse unless the horse has thyroid insuffiency. 2 excess hormone has serious health effects and can lead to cardiac disorders, weight loss and major complications including death 3 thyroid hormone replacement demands very precise dosing and monitoring of effects 4 various sources of this medicine have differen bioavailability and various manufacturers are not always equivalent. it is possible that the source and measurement in Hollywood park cases varied from others.

  • Jim

    It’s not rocket science. The less a horse weighs the faster they run. Just like lasix causes weight loss. He probably googled ” fast weight loss ” one day
    Thyroxine–hot dammmmm!!

    I would bet their us prolly a truck load of caffeine hydrochloride dumped in his feed as well

  • Maria in Manchester

    Is thyroxine typically only used by trainers in America? What about the
    U.K.? I’ve never heard of it before. Anyone know?

    • Steve Gibson

      No, illegal in Europe.

  • Birdy2

    Bollocks. He’s a great promoter and a mediocre (at best) horseman. He never wore those glasses before he became Hollywood Bob, which you would know if you’d been around back in the day, on the QH circuit. Loyal owners? Do some research, please! And just because an owner is “loyal” (or a drinking buddy) does not make him ethical.

  • cara james

    i work for a vet, never give lasix ,or thyroid medication to an animal that does not need it, it will cause dehydration, and heart attack in horses that race, look it up this fact ,just look the f-ing information up and read what these medications will do to an animal or human if not needed,its death


    this is not a freak accident ,with baffert horses ,if you give thyroid and lasix ,a water pill ,it causes death in humans and animals, come on people , this is a fact ,not fiction, never take these medicines if you plan to run ,race, , these meds can and will cause death, with exercise or no exercise, if not needed, and taken ,look to spend a few days in the hospital, re-hydrating and regulating your your heart rate , and minerals that are lost from lasix,water pills,thyroid, that is if you are found before your heart stops/ just look up the meds and what effects , scare the hell out of you, maybe baffert should take these meds,see if he makes it to the end of he day , with out a visit to the E,R,IF HE GETS THERE IN TIME,HOPE SOME ONE KNOWS CPR,AND HAS AN IV READY,GOOD LUCK

  • Steve Gibson

    Same CHRB that found nothing wrong with Baffert having 100% of his horses on thyroid medicine too? That CHRB? LOL

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