UPDATED: Cardiac Failure Fatalities Spike in California, Baffert Barn

by | 04.10.2013 | 4:49pm

What is causing a significant increase in sudden deaths by cardiac failure among horses at California racetracks, and why were traces of rodenticide, or rat poison, found in post-mortem toxicology tests of two of the deceased horses?

The California Horse Racing Board's Medication and Track Safety Committee discussed the sudden death of horses at a meeting in Arcadia, Calif., Wednesday. Horsemen throughout the region have been talking about it, too, specifically about the rash of sudden deaths of runners from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

UPDATED: Dr. Rick Arthur, the CHRB's equine medical director, said the number of what mandatory necropsy reports call non-musculoskeletal “sudden deaths” has been relatively constant over the last three years: 20 sudden death in fiscal year 2010-11; 19 in 2011-12; and 17 to date for 2012-13 (the fiscal year ends June 30).

However, a February CHRB report did point out an increase in sudden deaths attributed to cardiac failure, which has been a concern among Southern California trainers: there were 11 in 2011-12, up from four in 2008-09 and six in 2010-11. The number of cardiac failure sudden deaths for the current fiscal year is not available.

These deaths are unrelated to horses euthanized as a result of musculoskeletal injuries.

The CHRB has not made public details on the names of the horses or the owners or trainers, but the Paulick Report learned through public record requests that seven of the sudden death horses over the past 18 months were trained by Bob Baffert. Most of the deaths of Baffert runners, with the exception of two horses who collapsed after a race, occurred during training hours. All of the Baffert horse deaths took place at the track now known as Betfair Hollywood Park

The Paulick Report has acquired necropsy reports of the seven sudden death horses, which include detailed analysis of body organs, tissue results of toxicology and drug testing. Two horses were identified by Equibase charts and two others through published reports.

The first Baffert horse to die suddenly in the 2011-12 fiscal year as reported by the CHRB was a 2-year-old male who collapsed while galloping at Hollywood Park on the morning of Nov. 4, 2011. His death was attributed to “likely failure of the cardiac conduction system,” according to a necropsy report from the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System. A second came three weeks later when Irrefutable, a 5-year-old son of Unbridled's Song, collapsed after finishing second in a six-furlong race at Hollywood Park. Heart failure and/or exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage were listed as the likely cause of death. A third sudden death occurred Jan. 6, 2012, again at Hollywood Park, when Uncle Sam, a 4-year-old son of Tapit, collapsed near the three-eighths pole during a morning workout. Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis was listed as a possible cause of death, but the report called it a “puzzling” case.

Kaleem Shah owned all three of the aforementioned Baffert-trained horses, based on comments in the necropsy reports.

When Mike Pegram's homebred 4-year-old El Corredor colt CJ Russell died from apparent heart failure after the finish of a Hollywood Park race June  15, 2012, the necropsy report noted “fourth horse to collapse/die for this trainer in less than one year.”

A fifth death occurred Aug. 20, 2012, when a 2-year-old male at Hollywood Park died from heart failure while training.

A sixth death occurred on Dec. 21, 2012, when a 3-year-old gelding galloping in the morning at Hollywood Park went down, succumbing to what the necropsy report said was a “massive abdominal/thoracic cavity hemorrhage.” Toxicology tests discovered trace amounts of diphacinone, an agent in rodenticide, or rat poison. The report on the death called this an “important finding” but did not elaborate.

The most recent Baffert sudden death, the seventh since November 2011, happened March 14, 2013, at Hollywood Park, again during training hours, when a 5-year-old mare collapsed and died from what the report described as severe pulmonary edema. Based on information in a published Daily Racing Form report, it is believed Miner's Daughter is the mare who died.

Baffert did not respond to voice or text messages sent to his cell phone Wednesday afternoon.

Sudden deaths of horses are thought to be rare, a scientific study said. Several trainers with more than 30 years of experience interviewed by the Paulick Report spoke warily of the situation. None of trainers lost more than three horses to sudden death during their entire careers, they said.

During the Medication and Track Safety Committee meeting Wednesday, it was revealed that trace levels of rat poison were discovered in toxicology tests of two of the horses who died suddenly, according to Mike Marten, an information officer with the CHRB. Marten said the CHRB interviewed pest-control companies that provided services to the Southern California tracks and that the type of rodenticide used by those companies did not match what was found in the toxicology tests. He also said Dr. Francico Uzal of the University of California-Davis and the CHRB's medical director, veterinarian Rick Arthur, told the committee that the rat poison could not be confirmed as the cause of death.

The second horse with trace amounts of a rodenticide, brodifacoum (an anti-coagulant), was the MIke Mitchell-trained, Daniel Capen-owned Truism, who collapsed and died in the stretch of a March 2, 2013, Santa Anita race. Cause of death was severe internal bleeding.

Note: The original version of this article, including the headline, referred to a spike in sudden deaths of horses racing at California tracks and erroneously compared cardiac failure deaths in two years with overall sudden deaths in 2011-12. There was, in fact, an increase in the number of horses dying suddenly from heart failure, but the total number of sudden deaths (which include a variety of causes) is relatively unchanged.

  • Sad to say that Baffert has plenty of stock to replace the ones that die. Pretty much an endless supply.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    I would like to think that a lot of these horses had proper necropsies done when people began realizing there were a rash of these sudden deaths. As far as the ones with a trace of rodenticide in their systems, the cause of death would be pretty easy to determine if there was evidence of bleeding throughout the body. This is a little too odd for my liking. If I were a trainer and all of a sudden noticed that my horses were dropping dead for no appat reason, I would darn well want full necropsies done on all of them, with full toxicology as well. The lack of information readily available on the cause of death and steps being taken to better monitor this are very very troubling. I’m not going to start down the road of legal vs illegal medication, but Clenbuterol and its severe overuse in horses comes to mind as something to look at very closely in these cases…

    • Jay

      Me thinks you may be closer than you realize, Shelter Doc

    • Tinky

      At the risk of sounding cynical (moi?), proper necropsies are not likely to be done when a trainer doesn’t want the source of the problem to be found. Cardiac issues? Hmmm…growth hormones? Other designer drugs, putting hearts under too much pressure?

      • Sunny

        No trainer worth his salt would risk using drugs like you say after having a horse or two drop dead in their barn. Maybe the first one or two trying to find an extra boost, but a trainer like Baffert ignoring multiples dying- not likely. I would say this is HIGHLY suspicious and would be having tests done on all feed sources in the barn. Especially if it’s JUST happening at his barn in Cali. That’s a lot of dead horses from one barn, and by the time the 3rd or 4th hit the ground, I am sure some investigating has been going on.
        Considering the recent Purina feed recall, it’s possible this is a product failure in a feed source. Feed mills use poison to control rodents. Be interesting to follow this one.

        • Tinky

          I’d argue that no trainer worth his salt would endanger horses with potent PEDs to begin with. I do agree that it would be stupid to continue using something after more than one or two fatalities, but that would apply only to drugs used close to the race. Consider that growth hormones may have been used too early to stop the cascade of deaths, even after they began.

        • MightveBen

          Your comment is incredibly naive. Trainers with complicity of vets give MULTIPLE drugs that have potentially harmful and fatal effects. Did anyone ever ask how much dexamethasone Paynter received before his colic? Ever hear of steriod toxicity? This forum lauded the connections for their epic rescue efforts. NOT ONE paragraph appeared in the industry press requesting info regarding the cause.

          • JLC

            Fair point, but it is true horses colic and get colitis for all sorts of reasons.

          • MightveBen

            Gastric ulcers AND related laminitis. Just coincidence. Also, just coincidence that Baffert uses Dex like it is water.

          • JLC

            Immuno- and adrenal suppression; what fun… :-/

      • caroline

        I thought full necropsies were mandated in California for all racehorses under the state’s necropsy progam. I guess I just don’t know what a full necropsy is defined as.

        • Tinky

          My cynicism stems from the likelihood that even mandated necropsies would not likely include cutting-edge drug screening.

          • caroline

            Well, yes. I don’t know whether for research purposes in the injury database program they do more extensive screening. It seems that six sudden deaths in 2010-11 did not even have final causes attributed – they are assigned as acute heart failure in the report. Socal necropsies I guess all go through the San Bernardino lab. http://www.chrb.ca.gov/annual_reports/2010-11_post_mortem_annual_report.pdf

          • caroline

            According the the BloodHorse piece they have conducted extensive toxicological studies in these cases…

          • upstarthere

            The BloodHorse piece quotes Dr. Arthur (CHRB medical director) as saying “I personally review every necropsy report…” and then continues “There is much that slips by our notice…”. This is found at the very end of the article.

          • caroline

            I saw that. It seems as though it has to be a typo of some sort although you’d think they’d have spotted it by now…

        • swiss305

          You are right, They are mandated. My other observation is: Baffert works his horses at race speed at every workout i.e., four furlongs i 46 or 47 seconds, five furlongs in 59.

      • watcher

        …clenbuterol…dexamethasone? too much lasix?

    • MA

      Every horse that dies on the grounds of a CHRB-regulated track must undergo a necropsy/toxicology through the UC Davis program. There’s more info on horse deaths in California than any other state because of that rule. They have the full information on all of these horses, it’s just that it hasn’t been published for the public yet. Paulick Report’s working on that. I hope they might be able to find a common factor and prevent it in the future.

      • MightveBen

        Sudden on track deaths, yes. Sending “sick” horses to off-track clinics for “non-recovery” avoids this process.

        • MA

          And that relates to this story how?

          • I think that MightveBen was alluding to the fact that there MAY be more deaths than we know out at rehab and/or slaughter houses.

      • I’ll also add that knowledge by public will bring about better and more complete procedures. All governmental agencies will now be crying “poor” because of the fiscal situation while collecting their full salaries & benefits. The public MUST speak up.

    • watcher

      sorry to hear about this…cant help but wonder if you are on the right track…I have seen some very careless use of what I consider potent medications…used for quick results and dire consequences.

    • JLC

      I’m sure not crazy about exercise on a bunch of clenbuterol. I’ve said this before–if any humans here have had albuterol nebulizer treatments for asthma, did you feel like running around a track afterwards?!! My patients certainly didn’t. Jittery mammals who, yes, can breathe better but have rapid heart rates and God knows what else… :-/

  • “Most of them were attributed to cardiac arrest or related cardiopulmonary failure.” Clenbuterol perhaps. Coumadin is a blood thinner and used as a rat poison…SAD.

    • Rachel

      That coumadin observation was very astute…

  • MakesUWonder

    Wonder if this is related to Lou Raffeto’s- a very reputable man – sudden departure from Calif.

  • eachai

    Keep on it Ray.

    • Exposure is the name of “The Game” in the Free World!!!…ty…

    • Horsewomann

      What does Bob Baffert have to say about all this? Has he responded yet?

      • Yes, actually he said “I have no comment”

  • 14151617


  • we’re watching

    Disturbing news. Thanks for the report PR.
    This news should be made public when it occurs, so that the industry, all of the industry including the public, is aware of something amiss.

  • circusticket

    And trainers want to continue to use Lasix in the “best interest of the horse”. Yeah, right.

    Wait until the NYT gets a hold of this news. Wait until the public hears about it. When is this all going to stop? Not just to save horse racing, but to save the horses.

  • robertkachur

    Joe’s best ‘ghost’ article made the front page of several Sunday sports sections with photos. It centered on a movie starlet who was pictured at a crowded table in the track kitchen with her white poodle, the vet with ‘Charles Bukowski’ fingers and a racing commissioner who owned several horses that left the course mangled. Actresses had seen Ruffian-Foolish Pleasure match race. Ruffian had to be eased. She stood on the backstretch. Jacinto, her jockey, jumped off and grabbed Ruffian’s reins and unhinged her saddle while waiting for help and the horse ambulance. In a recent snap and plunge breakdown, the jockey was a projectile and the horse died with his saddle on. She maintained that the cause was injected numbness.

    In presenting the industries overview of death from racing, the vet quoted a line from‘Vinnie’, a made mob rubout gunner from a famous scene in the movie Goodfellas.

    Jimmie( Robert Deniro) walks outside a Jersie diner to an aluminum phone booth to call and congratulate his friend Tommie (Joe Pesci) whose being ‘made’ ceremony should have just finished. However, Vinnie answers the phone not Tommie. Jimmie says “What Happened?” Vinnie replies. “He’s gone and we couldn’t do nothing about it.”

  • In tears


  • Sue M. Chapman

    I’ll write the dirty word: INSURANCE.

    • Knowitall

      Seriously doubt that is what is going on – or that Bob sends riders out on horses he expects to drop dead. Bob has A LOT to lose here, so I don’t think he or his owners are killing horses. But it does beg the more obvious question – what is in his supplement cabinet?

      • Christopher Clark

        where do the vets sit in all this?

        • Knowitall

          Good question. And Baffert has lost a few more than some might be comfortable with to lung ailments – see Diamond Omi and Clutch Player (also owned by Shah), along with others never mentioned.

          • MA

            Yeah, seems like he’s had a lot of pneumonia cases compared to other barns.

          • MightveBen

            Dexamethasone suppresses immune system and leaves horses vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections; particularly respiratory. Also can cause gastric problems (colic and ulcers) + laminitis (See: Paynter). Also contraindicated for use with Lasix due to resulting electrolyte imbalances; but it is common practice for some barns to do so. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Ask to see vet use of Dex in Baffert barn.

          • Hopefieldstables

            Contraindicated with a NSAID (ie bute) as well but the way it is commonly used you would never know. Pharmacology 101.

            Then again vets have abdicated their responsibility and are just pharmacists for the trainers who demonstrably have not a clue about pharmacology.

          • JLC

            In case anybody’s missing it, Dex is a steroid.

      • Me too. What is much more likely is that there is a new drug being tried that is fatal to some horses. For the few that die, probably there are many who are winning. Of course, unless labs know what to check for they are unable to test for it. But would guess the rat poison ingredient is a clue.

        • Knowitall

          Although it was only listed in one Baffert horse. Anyway, agree it is a clue nonetheless. I’ve often defended Baffert as too big too risk this conversation coming to light or to risk his valuable horses and stable, but he needs to start coming clean, asap. Also do wonder about Shah’s amazing bad luck or willingness to pay vet bills that must equal his board bill…wish Bob would just go all shock and awe – throw the doors open, turn the sport upside down, help them develop tests, and then let the vultures pick clean all the other dirt from the less visible horsemen, too. I’d admire that legacy as much as the three Derby trophies.

          • EPO = heart attacks and death EPO – expensive = deep pocketed owners

    • fallbrook

      I was thinking the same thing, can’t have someone come in and break legs like they did in the late 80’searly 90’s. Or there is a very sick person or persons out to hurt Bob .

    • JW Wright

      thank you,Sue…been scrolling through for pages but you are the first to say it…ever since Alydar’s death the insurance question has to be addressed always..
      In the Age of Lance can we actually believe that horses aren’t routinely drugged(only Motion and Clement—Europeans!) have never had a drug citation,Baffert,O’Neill,et al. have dozens..and yet we cling to the fantasy that they are the greatest trainers in the history of the sport.

  • A

    Too much GMO in their diet ? Corn Beet pulp, Soy, Frankenfalfa ? It is full of poison Be careful what you feed ! Some hay dealers sprinkle rat poison on hay to keep rats from destroying bales also.

    • Gail Vacca

      I just learned that sisal twine is doused in rodenticide to prevent mice from destroying hay and straw bales. GMO alfalfa, corn, oats and poison baling twine. Scary.

  • Richard C

    It reminds me of the title of a classic book on the shadowy medical practices in pro football — “You’re Okay, It’s Just A Bruise”.

  • MA

    If we get the names of the recent victims, let’s also look at their pedigree and see if there’s a common factor there. I know two of them are closely related.

  • watcher

    an imbalance in electrolytes alone can cause heart issues…might help to know if they died after exercise or quiet…(Lasix in the heat can be pretty brutal to a horse)

  • MightveBen

    Shelter Doc or informed med expert

    What would be a possible outcomes of combining exercise induced stress, other meds, and aplastic anema? Sudden death, as in dropping dead from cardio-pulmonary failure.

    • JLC

      Depends on the meds, but anemia, aplastic or otherwise, and exercise don’t mix well. A lower oxygen-carrying capacity would make it even harder for the body to meet its aerobic needs during exercise.

    • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

      That is really hard question to answer without more facts or situations as everything can be case specific. There certainly can be drug interactions that can lead to problems. Aplastic anemia is a very specific type of anemia that is caused when the bone marrow is depleted, poisoned, or otherwise wiped out so it can no longer manufacture red blood cells. Usually we see cases of this secondary to a toxic exposure or sometimes due to what is called an idiosyncratic reaction (basically that particular individual gets the reaction to the drug but the rest of the population would be fine with it). The cause for anemia can also be a list about 2 pages long depending on the animal and the cause. I will say that stress of any kind on an animals system will make the symptoms and complications of anemia worse. As was mentioned previously, electrolyte inbalance can also cause severe complications when an animal is under stress. FInally, cardio-pulmonary failure can also be caused by many things. The necropsy ltself can reveal if there were some structural abnormalities in the heart or vasculatrue that might have caused the sudden death. It will not be able to tell you if there was an electrical disturbance such as an arrythmia as the cause though. Stress exacerbates bascically any condition, but by what degree and if it would be fatal is case by case.

      • RJ

        Doc, your spelling really.

  • Ida Lee

    OMG…this sounds ominous. Rat poison…OMG. Since the nightmare of Swale’s sudden death, I try not to think about an otherwise healthy horse’s sudden death. Too many bad memories. Just what I need…something else to worry about!!

    • JLC

      Swale’s death was so hard and I don’t think they ever had an answer there. My betting money(sorry for the pun) would be on arrhythmia post-exercise; a lot of human hearts, too, have trouble with what is called “recovery phase”. Heartbreaking, and the lack of info, I would think, never helped the connections. I’m still sorry about it…

  • Martha RW

    The possible rodenticide deaths of the race horses reminds me of an article I just read in Assoiated Humane Societies ( New Jersey) newsletter. The article said that there is a new rodent poison for which there is no antidote.A dog that had gotten just a little bit of it had died. It sounded pretty frightening and not something that should be allowed out in the market.

    • ziggypop

      That’s for sure!

  • upstarthere

    What I find remarkable and not addressed by the comments here is that as we are in the immediate afterglow of the ’12 Belmont Stakes with 11 and one half months of the fiscal year under the belt of the CHRB and most likely SOME of these fatalities known, it is yet ANOTHER nine or so months (and apparently 10 more deaths) before the CHRB mentions any of this. WHY IS THAT?

    • ziggypop

      That was my first thought as well.

  • and to think I received so much backlash for wanting 72 surveillance on the SA Derby…? Conflict of interest as a few published about us for saying we would back it financially? I can think of a much better example of conflict of interest..or two. Conflict of interest is defined as and individual or organization that is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for the act in another. Note it didn’t say “stop corruption”. We should have 72 hour on all races, pre & post race testing on all horses, especially those races with so much money and fame tied to it. Price you pay in the NFL with big contracts but not in our sport it seems. I love Thoroughbred racing and what I do and thankfully work for owners that care enough to stand up for what it right. Good trainers with good horses will still win races but they will just be good trainers & horses, not super horses… or dead ones. We need one commissioner and federal laws in place as one wise man said…. no man or company is ever too big to fail unless we allow it.

    • David

      Where is the surveillance on the rest of the horses that race ? Don’t they count also if you are trying to protect the horses?

      • Good question…something I plan to carry a torch on into the future. Its time we put our foot down once and for all if we want to save and rejuvenate this amazing sport. we must create rules and regulations with serious consequences regardless of your last name and someone non-bias must mandate them.

      • …and David of course they count. But am just acting as an owner. Its not my responsibly to pay for all these horses is it? I am willing to co-pay upon entry as any responsible owner should. Our reason to stand up in the SA Derby was to bring awareness and use it as a platform to make change. This issue you ask about should be in the hands of the CHRB, TOC etc.

        • dispute92

          Totally agree with you. Having horses as well, I want a fair playing field which doesn’t always exist. There are times we enter and I look at the trainers listed. That gives me a clue of where I will finish. Thanks for your input.

    • Right on Janine! I’m willing to keep any & all issues of safe, secure & clean racing in the public eye. I stay in touch with several others & FB racing groups across the country with the same interests and concerns and we try to keep adding to the list, even to the International community. Since I am a 3rd gen. Calif. I have also called to task the CHRB & the TOC in most of the issues I post. Ask Aase if Ingrid would/can fill you in on some oxen to poke & actions to take. The more that becomes public, the faster things will change. The new measures on the east coast did not take place in a vacuum. A BIG word of caution on a Federal formation. I guarantee it would be expensive slow acting and responsive to the same old/same old!! The industry would be much better off to find that retired good guy that can head up the brave awakening connections to create something like that which was created for the International GP Formula-1 racing. This would be an umbrella group that sets the minimum standards for national races, which would be met by all certified tracks and the horses that race there. IF states wanted to make higher standards, that would be O.K. They also would raise standards for the major races nationally and help return the American thoroughbred to prominence world wide.

  • Greg Jones

    Still waiting on the Vet report regarding the death of Tweebster. Add Baffert’s Clutch Player, Irrefutable, Uncle Sam, etc…

  • dave_parker

    I would not draw any conclusions from data from 3 + years as statistically significant one way or another. If you looked at these kinds of deaths over 20 or 30 years, you might be able to draw some sort of average, but not from just the limited data given here. I guess everyone on this post must have graduated from the “CSI” school of deduction. You put Mr. Baffert unfairly in the position of proving a negative and convict him on a purely speculative basis.

    • caroline

      The necropsy program in California has been operating since February 1990. If there is an outlier worth analyzing, they probably know it when they see it.

    • caroline

      The CA necropsy program has been active since Feb 1990 so you would think if there is an outlier worth analyzing they would know it if they saw it.

    • Dave

      If you read above in reply to JLC I gave some statistics over a 20 year period on the incidence of sudden cardiac death in thoroughbreds. The study, published in the Equine Veterinary Journal found that it was responsible for about 9% of all fatalities in CA over an 18 year period at an average of 5 per year for the time period. Both these statistics were significantly higher than other racing jurisdictions within America and compared to Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.

    • JLC

      I believe Mr. Paulick and others, including me, are simply raising questions here. Again I will thank Performance Genetics for outlining the results of some studies, and I agree with him/her, having read a mass-ton of studies myself on various subjects, that, frankly, the numbers are significant. Or, if you prefer less professional terms, creepy and disturbing.

  • Guest

    TRACE rodenticide is not cause of death, that’s stupid. It would be immediately obvious if it were, as the stresses of training would have caused a fatal EIPH episode in the face of the intoxicated blood that will not clot. That’s how rodenticide works, people… you bleed to death internally. There would also be dead or sick horses in the barns, not just on the track. It’s nothing more than a red herring.

    • The rodenticide in question has the active ingrediant warfarin. thats why its being labeled as rodencide. Its actually also in the active ingrediant in human blood thining medication. Coumadin Coumadin has a side affect being hemorhage. I think in the best interest of racing security at racetracks need to be stepped up.

    • jttf

      in 2010, tuscan evening just completed a 6 furlong work on delmar’s turf course. while galloping back after the work. tuscan died from a heart attack. tuscan had a 6 graded stake win streak at the time. some california trainers (which includes baffert) have been using 6 furlong works on a continued basis. these horses are running on lasix and getting workouts every week. no rest for the dehydrated. a 6 furlong work is near equivalent to a race.

      • JLC

        Dehydrated and demineralized–both states are GREAT for the cardiac and skeletal systems(NOT)… :-(

        • jttf

          dehydration can cause the blood pressure to drop. so the heart beats faster to try to raise the blood pressure. so the horse has a faster beating heart and then is ordered to work longer distances on a regular basis. so what do california trainers have that the rest of the world doesnt have ? the combo of lasix and 6 furlong workouts. now, when it comes to a trace amount of poison in the horse’s system. will the poison cause a horse to get a fever and lower the immunity levels ?

          • JLC

            It could, but I would be surprised if “trace” was a fatal problem. Yet it doesn’t take a whole lot of certain poisons to cause trouble or death.

            Yes, dehydration can drop the blood pressure–a faster heart rate would not necessarily raise the blood pressure; the point of the elevated heart rate is that it aids the body in still meeting its oxygen(circulating) needs in the presence of a decreased blood volume.

            Exercise in a dehydrated state is simply not a pretty picture for any mammal, including humans. The heart wall does not like being irritated by stress and/or a lack of O-2 or electrolytes: the stuff of which arrhythmias are made, some fatal.

      • Roisin

        I remember Tuscan Evening and wondering if we would ever know why a “heart attack” in a young healthy well conditioned athlete. I guess we never will know, sad. What I find interesting is she never won a race in 11 starts between Ireland and England where she started her career. She had 12 wins out of 16 starts in this country….Just an observation.

        • Lhartley

          i am not convinced these are well-conditioned athletes. they go out for a few minutes in the morning and stand around in the their stalls the rest of the day. i know a trainer from europe that was telling me about the training regime and it is SO different. the horses run across all types of surface, up and down hills, for a long time, really building up their stamina.

          • Roisin

            Yes, you have a very good point re the training in the US. I have family who used to train in Ireland and it was different. Plus the horses were not housed at the track in those days. I suppose it has changed quite a bit, however.

      • Roisin

        In my reply, I forgot to mention Tuscan Evening raced exclusively in CA.Out of 16 starts in the US 15 were in CA…just another observation.

    • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

      It would depend on the rodenticide in question. Without getting into the boring biochemical workings of the drugs and all that, most rodenticides work by inhibiting certain clotting factors in the blood from being formed in the liver (most are based on vitamin K). However, the body does have some of those clotting factors already made and working so it is usually a few days to even a week after ingestion that you start to see the bleeding signs. For this reason, you often will not see the active drug or rodenticide in a high concentration in post mortem samples.

    • Roisin

      Of course you are right. Also a trace finding is not of much if any significance and incidental to the situation. The info. should not have been released at this stage of the infestigation.

    • zraces

      many take blood thinners to prevent stroke without dying. It’s about the dose. And many of these mention capillary wall failure, internal bleeding. Might use a blood thinner to prevent “sludging” when EPO or blood doping is being used?

  • Otis

    Interesting that Bob Baffert himself suffered a heart attack just one year ago. Coincidental or accidental?

    • Guest

      Seriously? That is a ludicrous intimation.

      • otis

        You’re missing the point. If he was handling some subsatnce, known or unknown, that could cause heart attacks, is it too far- fethched to think that a smaller amount absorbed through the hands or breathing would cause the same result in a human? I don’t believe Bob Baffert does anything out of the norm and think he is a very, very good trainer. However, in my mind it is not outside the realm of possibilities that he was exposed to the same substance that may have caused a similar result? This is not by any means a condemnification of Bob Baffert. He is smarter than that and has too many good horses to be trying to gain an edge with stupid tricks and pharmaceuticals.

        • Knowitall

          I can assure you that Bob’s almost 100% clogged artery was not a product of whatever he gives his horses, and even more so I can promise you he isn’t exposed to a damn thing in his barn, and has an entire highly paid staff to take care of all of his horses…needs.

        • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

          The cause of Bafferts heart problem was a clogged major coronary artery. It is an important point to make that animals usually do not suffer cardiac arrest because of clogged arteries. Part of it is the diet they are on, but the bigger reason is that animals usually don’t live long enough to have those types of problems, as they can take decades to occur in humans.

  • upstarthere

    Ray, when this article was just updated what happened to the passages where “long time trainers” were asked about this type of occurrence and they said it had very rarely happened to them in their long careers?

    • RayPaulick

      That paragraph remains intact.

  • Erin

    You can add one more name: From DRF.com, dated 1/10/12: “Another nominee, Uncle Sam, dropped dead during a workout last weekend
    at Hollywood Park, trainer Bob Baffert said. Uncle Sam was the second
    horse owned by Kaleem Shah, and trained by Baffert, to die of an
    apparent aortic rupture in recent weeks, the other being Irrefutable,
    who died after running in the Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park in

  • JLC

    The equine vets would have to comment here; I admit I’m playing armchair vet with knowledge of human physiology, but a lot of mammalian physiology can be similar. Yet another reason i can’t stand the injudicious use of drugs in racing horses, albeit I don’t know what has happened in these particular cases.

    Simply put, horses are big and their hearts are big; some bigger than others(Secretariat) but a normal horse heart rate is only 36-42 beats per minute. I was stunned when I first learned that–what an efficient system in such a large animal. But the problem with slow heart rates, even normal ones, is that they are ripe for conduction disruption, because the spaces between beats are so large. Some conduction disruptions are fatal. Sadly, exercise alone can cause conduction disruption, but a huge external culprit of this can also be various and sundry DRUGS. Even things that people mistakenly don’t consider “drugs”–just ask the poor parent of some unknowing teen who had an undiscovered arrhythmia or strange pulse rate to begin with, then sucked down a couple of those over-the-counter energy drinks and suffered cardiac arrest. Ugh…

    Just as an example, Lasix is also a potassium-wasting diuretic, The cardiac system doesn’t like having low potassium levels, and that’s not an “organism” I’d want engaging in vigorous exercise or racing.

    Thus, by contrast, I’d like to see some stats on incidence of sudden equine cardiac deaths in, say, Britain or Hong Kong. Mr. Baffert may have nothing to do with this; perhaps it is coincidence. I don’t know him or how his barn works. But, if you all find some way of getting the horses as a whole off unnecessary drugs, you might see a whole lot less “collapse” like this.

    • In recent times there have been three peer-reviewed studies on sudden cardiac death in thoroughbreds




      The best is the last one cited where they studied deaths in the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. A total of 268 cases of sudden death were identified: 60% (162/268) from California, USA (February 1990–August 2008); 8% (22/268) from Pennsylvania, USA (February 1997–September 2007); 13% (36/268) from Victoria, Australia (February 2001–May 2008); 11% (28/268) from Sydney, Australia (January 2003–July 2009); 4% (10/268) from Hong Kong (March 2000–February 2008); and 4% (10/268) from Japan (October 1972–January 2002).

      Aortic rupture, a common side effect for Clenbuterol misuse, which is anecdotally thought to be a common cause of exercise-related sudden death in horses, occurred in only 1% (2/268) of cases. It is however noteworthy that in the time periods for each of the countries, sudden cardiac death was given as the reported reason for death in a significantly higher proportion on a per year basis in America than any other racing jurisdiction studied.

      • JLC

        Thanks to you both for the above perspective/study report/data. Says it all…

        • Horselover

          Exactly……says it all! Clean up the sport……it’s a disgusting embarrassment to our country.

      • jack

        So, Baffert has had 7 horses die from sudden cardiac arrest over the past 18 months, while in Japan, the ENTIRE population of thoroughbreds who raced over the past 30 years only experienced 10 deaths from the same condition? Is that right? If so, that is a SHOCKING REVELATION!

        • Hopefieldstables

          Only been 8 in HK last 5 years.

      • Ah, I see I stopped and commented too soon. Thanks for the information.

    • Hopefieldstables

      Brian Stewart formerly of the HKJC reported that in 5 years there were 8 sudden deaths from about 45,000 runners.

      2 were pulmonary hemorrhage (but the horses had no history of EIPH)*

      5 were cardiac failure

      1 was abdominal hemorrhage

      *- thus likely aortic or similar catastrophic failure

      Hong Kong of course is lasix free. (both training and racing)

      • JLC

        Based on the study info provided by Performance Genetics, it’s looking a lot like “MORE DRUG USE COULD BE RELATED TO MORE SUDDEN CARDIOVASCULAR DEATHS”.

        And you know what else? There’s plenty of winning, speed, and money in places like Hong Kong and Britain, too, without drugs, and it seems the horses tend to live longer. And when they are healthier and live longer, that means they can perhaps race longer and win more, too.

        In sum, the drug use doesn’t look too good when playing the long game.

        • Hopefieldstables

          Lets be precise, drug misuse.

        • Convene


    • re the lasix referance: that is why post administration of lasix -usually an hour or so- there is an administration of an electrolyte / potassium jug to replace the negatives of lasix but employ the positives. How about providing clean air to breathe? every step a horse takes he takes a breathe; his lung is the largest organ in his body second only to the intestine; how about getting rid of the GMO grain so that the oats and corn consumed have the values of 50 years ago so owners and trainers aren’t having to use vitamin and mineral supplements to achieve a healthy diet and development? perhaps because of THESE fundamentals we are now seeing the weakening of the breed and a prevalence of cardiac and lung issues. Horses too have undetected arrythmia’s, differing metabolism’s etc etc. Who are you to say and or know what are neccessary and what is not? There have been far too many back seat driver’s and “do gooder” policy maker’s, who have no idea of the difference between therapeutic medications (and their application) and narcotics, barbituates and stimulants, resulting in the pulling of proper ethical and pragmatic treatment of these fabulously extrordinary equine athletes!

      • sittin’ chilly

        at what track is a jug given an hour after lasix?

        • Roisin

          And why would Potassium be administered without Blood work to determine wheather it was needed. A high level of potassium is just as dangerous as a low level. Giving potassium without checking the level first is playing with fire. A too high level causes a slower heart rate than normal and even cardiac arrest. A lower than normal potassium can cause heart arrythimias (abnormal beats/palpitations) which can also cause cardiac arrest.

          • Barney Door

            Whether safe or necessary, many trainers/vets admin IV “DMSO jugs” and other concoctions during training and racing. A bucket of water with some electrolytes is probably safer, sufficient, and better for the horse, but the track vet could not charge $35 per. Prevalent in SoCal as well as other jurisdictions.

          • Roisin

            That sounds scary to me. My take on modern medicine, human and equine in the animal world, is too much emphasis on IV as an admin. route. Maybe it goes along with our instant gratification mentality. Of course IV has it’s very important role in emergencies.. but as a routine I think it is overused and is not without it’s own set of risks. A bucket of water with etrolytes would be my choice, hands down, and safer and better for the horse as you said. Money should not be the deciding factor but all too often it is.

          • Hopefieldstables

            Very scary to me too ! Must sound incredible to hear of the horses in the rest of world racing daily sans lasix and “jugs” and yet they are the ones for whom 12 furlongs is middle distance. No wonder there is so much denial.

            On Tuesday at Saint Cloud the shortest race on the card was 1m. There were two at 10.5f, two at 12f and one at 17.5f. (the winner was the 6/4 fav under 132lbs)

            Just an regular day on soft turf.

          • MightveBen

            Lasix lowers Ca and K levels. Dex + Lasix even more so.

      • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

        Technically the skin is the largest organ in the body…but your point of clean air to breath is a very good one. The topic of supplements is also a good one…although I am only a small animal vet, I get the supplement question askd of me all the time. Basically my response is that if you are feeding a high quality diet that is properly balanced, you don’t need supplements. They are already there. The only supplement I am sold on is the glucosamine based ones for joint health. I do beleive there is a ton of value in those supplements if you are getting it from a high quality source.

        • Convene

          In fact, some supplements actually interfere with the uptake of things already provided in balance in the main diet! As you stated, feed a high-quality balanced diet with bio-accessible nutrients and you’re very unlikely to need supplements! I’m a Vet Technologist and a certified animal dietitian and those are the things we were taught early in our schooling.

      • Hopefieldstables

        Perhaps you need to understand the difference between palliative and therapeutic meds.

        By the way, oats and corn are poor sources of vitamins and minerals.

      • JLC

        The manipulation of potassium levels can be tenuous, and it’s a delicate balance.

        And if you don’t know the difference between “therapeutic medications” or not, or are using medications like clenbuterol for off-label purposes, you could be putting the “patient” at risk, rather an exercise in “informed consent”. I’m not saying I know what is necessary and what is not, I’m simply raising questions. Why are you so defensive?

    • Convene

      Good, rational, logically-presented statement. There are so many possible factors involved and figuring out which ones are relevant takes time and careful examination. Before any of us jumps on the bandwagon, let’s wait and see what the research reveals. It might take time (well, what doesn’t?), but in the end it can only benefit horses in general. Thank you for being another voice of reason.

  • JLC

    Here is the huge mistake that racing is making, especially now in, basically, an overstimulated communication age. News goes VIRAL–Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, e-mail, texting, and any other form of instant contact. Don’t get me wrong; I like racing but dislike most of these practices and care predominantly about the welfare of the horse. People are NOT stupid, and most are smart enough to understand that, for every “cockroach”(whatever corrupt “species” it may be) that we see(or that is reported on), we know very well that there are a ~ 100+ more(cockroaches) that we don’t see. And if you look like(or are) animal abuse for money, that is not the way to make friends/fans, influence people, and keep your industry alive. And it’s like a very experienced, corporate-manager friend of mine says–“Any organization that will not discipline from within, will ROT from within…” Here’s $5.00, please get on the clue bus. I don’t want to see racing go away, but this stuff gets more and more disheartening by the day…call me a whiner or a bleeding heart, but I REALLY feel for those animals… :-/

  • GB

    Ray….You are going to write yourself out of a job. You got a lot of flakes following you.

  • 1snuffy

    what about the exercise riders that were injured when the horses went down could be devastating

  • anonymous

    cough..cough…..”red bull”, compounded cocktail from new mexico and tx, wbc will be tanked also potassium off the chart. da know whats in it but it’s hot doesnt directly test. symtoms and hemotology and “bun” tell the tail.

    • Bubba

      interesting, “mexican redbull” is rumored to be used by some pennsylvania super trainers. I hope they checked for the Pickle juice(picrotoxin) read about its actions, or the chance that california had a test for it when these happened. (doubt it) hope they were smart enough to freeze samples to test now that there is a picrotoxin test. Lot of rumors of quarter horses dropping like this more often than thoroughbreds do. hmmm. any quarter horse connections. hmmmm.

      • Gallop

        Now that Ray knows how to pull CA autopsy records and given that there’s always extensive testing and screening, I’m sure he’ll be able to confirm that the California Highway Patrol has done a miracle job of keepin pig,pickle and bull juice off the QH backside.
        The active ingredients must go inert once the stuff crosses the CA border. Either that or QH racing in CA is a gentleman’s game and trainers would never think of acting like their midwestern neighbours.

  • Br1979

    Could it be possible transmission from a tick bite ? Ticks often feed on mice and rodents on a regular basis . Not only leaving pathogens of their own in the rodents but also receiving new pathogens from their victims . Could the rodents recently been poisend ? Lymes disease is found in equine blood all the time ! Just a thought

    • Erin

      Not a lot of ticks in urban Los Angeles. If Bob was out trail riding these horses, maybe.

  • Gallop

    Hey, how come you’re now not associating Betfair with Hollywood Park? Only on the good news stories? Not even on your tags… What are we supposed to deduce from the selective editing?

  • Sandra Warren

    If I were Bob Baffert, and these deaths were occurring in my barn, I would be absolutely desperate to run down the cause before my owners started pulling their valuable horses. I can see where he might have wanted to do this as quietly as possible, so we can’t know how many toxicology tests he might have done on all of his feed and supplements. Remember the melamine scandal that killed so many dogs. It spiked quickly and disappeared as soon as the dog food was identified. It might be any supplement if Bob has recently started with a new regimen. This business with the rat poison makes me think that although the racetrack’s pest control program doesn’t use that rodenticide, maybe a tack room resident might have set some of his own out, the mice ate it, pooped in the stalls before they died, and the horses nibbled up some turds along with their hay. Trace levels shouldn’t cause sudden deaths without some illnesses in the barn as well. I think there are a lot of successful trainers that use clenbuterol and Lasix to train, and try to make sure that it clears the system before they enter, so if clenbuterol routinely caused sudden death, I think there would be a lot more deaths occurring, and also debilitated horses as well as dead ones. We know he has night watchmen. I’d look at all of my recent employees, or recently fired ones. But then there is the magic stuff that makes the rounds before everyone starts using it, the steroids, the milkshakes, etc., that savvy trainers always seem to know about first There will be more on this before it’s over. This is a medical mystery, and it should be treated as a scientific medical investigation if the barn truly does not know what’s causing this. It would require a lot of honest charting to determine exactly when the problems started, and what changed in the barn regimen about that time. If I were Bob Baffert, I would not allow myself to hope that this was just a bad run of luck.

  • ShelleyB279

    Thx for being a watchdog. Whether there is foul play or not, scrutiny is vital to improving safety and fairness.

  • Nucky Thompson

    What a dilemma for Bob Costas. Who will he now focus on in the NBC Kentucky Derby coverage, Bob Baffert or Rudy Rodriguez ? He is spoiled for choice.

  • Guest

    It seems to me that Baffert has changed his drug cocktail and there is an issue with it. These deaths are not accidental nor a coincidence, although I’m sure the industry will treat them like they are and Baffert will suffer no ill effects to his career. RIP Tweebster and all of the other horses who literally ran their hearts out for men who don’t deserve it.

    • MA

      Tweebster was euthanized because of a leg fracture.

  • Looks like his barn allows what we used to call “stall walkers”. I’ll never look at Baffert runners the same again, and please jockeys,think about your lives.

    • blackcatlover

      Could someone please clarify….what are “stall walkers?”

  • Mimi Hunter

    I googled the poison and found it can be given in an almost unlimited variety of ways, and it sounds like a real nasty drug. Most people here are ready to think the worst and hang it on Bob Baffert. There is another cause that is possible – jealousy. That green-eyed monster can be deadly. Baffert has a high enough profile that there could be quite a long list of possible culprit. Someone suggested that his heart attack could be from him administering the poison. Another poo-poo’d that idea. From what I read it could be possible, but if the heart attack was caused by rodenticide, it could also have been from touching where it was put on a horse’s skin. There are still more questions than answers. It would be very counter-productive to assign blame before all the facts are known. This really needs to be followed up, and not just allowed to die [pun intended]

  • Cgriff

    This could be very big – Watergate big in the racing world. Follow the money, Ray. Great job and good luck – you’ll get blowback, for sure, but I don’t think you intimidate easily. These horses deserve a thorough investigation of why they died.

  • Liberterian

    When a man reaches the success in horse racing that Bob Baffert has you can bet that he is playing by the rules, but maybe applying too much science to a simple sport. I once caught an owner adding three extra squirts of ‘Red Cell’ vitamins explaining that if one was good four had to be better. It explained why his horses always had diarrhea, especially on race mornings! Todays trainers treat horses like fragile glass and there is a high tenancy to under train these massive athletes fearing injury which actually causes more injuries when put to the test. I remember a iron horse at Hollywood Park in 1970 who ran several times a week, and frequently won!

  • Knowitall

    When was Clenbuterol use curtailed in CA – at least for the horses that were actually entered to race, not just in training?

  • a horse treated with Coumadin will have the same reaction Than when when treated with any other drug since its highly unlikely that Bob Baffert would put a horses life in danger. I would be the first to be looking at other culprits in this matter.This will show up as a rodenticide when looked at through a lab test

  • Sheraco

    My opinion is short and sweet, BLOOD THINNERS, Warfarrin is used rat poison in large doses causes internal bleeding and death…..insurance is sadly another avenue that should be looked at, be interesting to see how many of the horses were actually insured..

  • caroline

    What is clearly needed is comprehensive toxicology studies including joint injection evidence if possible on every necropsy, if the “they are cheating and killing horses to do it” claim is to be silenced. Don’t you think? Of course that is very expensive (I assume). But so is NOT doing it for the future of US horse racing, one would hope. Except – oh wait – this will all be a non-issue in 12 months’ time, like every other major horse welfare/death/drug story in horse racing because the general public gives not a damn. You know why? Because this industry is slowly and painfully dying – it’s irrelevant. And that is the result of long-term, pervasive, entrenched inaction. Very sad.

  • disqus_Qp6GdWhkYn

    very strange events the report list different things as possible cause of death one I would think is very strange is exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage very strange

  • Ann Mitchell Adam here. We seem to be on the same team!! I am also on FB with the same name. Contact me there and maybe we can light some more fires???

  • Sysonby

    I’m not a vet so would be happy to hear from someone with a better knowledge of equine physiology on this point. I’ve been trying to figure out what purpose there would be in giving a horse an anticoagulant and I’ve come up with one possible reason related to blood doping. If the horse is being given EPO or having blood drawn over a period of time and then injected just before a race to increase red blood cell count, which results in more oxygen being carried to muscles and lower rates of fatigue which translates to greater endurance (the horse can run faster for longer), we know that this can have the effect of thickening the blood and making it more likely that athletes will be subject to blood clots leading to strokes and heart attacks. So an anticoagulant could be a misguided attempt to either (a) mitigate the negative effects of some form of blood doping by lowering the risk of clotting or (b) reduce the risk of being caught by testing that examines the proportion of red blood cells in blood volume. In that case, the chemical found could be incidental to the cause of death which is actually related to the initial blood doping.
    We know that an alarming number of relatively young cyclists have died of strokes or heart attacks over the last 20 years due to blood doping. It could be that’s what we’re seeing play out here in an equine arena.

    • Smudgy

      Hi there, I’m not sure how common this is in horseracing as the Equine physiology does a similar thing automatically, the spleen provides a boost of red blood cells giving the horse a ‘second wind’ when previously tiring.

      • Sysonby

        Yes, the horse has its own natural blood doping mechanism. However, thehorse.com has reported the use of EPO in equine athletes in the past and the resulting illnesses (primarily anemia) that can result, including fatalities.

  • jill

    Were these horses grazing on the grounds? Does maintenance spray anything on the grass for pest control? Remember Phar Lap.

  • This is making me ill..Ray stay on it!

  • Scott Ramsay

    What I’m trying to understand is where the Equine Medical Director in California is on all this, Dr. Rick Arthur, quoted in today’s New York Times.

    If I understand properly, he said yesterday at some public meeting of a “Safety and Medication Committee” in California that there wasn’t anything amiss in the numbers of sudden deaths!

    Did he call attention to the fact that one trainer had so many? If he’s been around racing as long as he says he has, certainly he must know that for any individual trainer, any sudden death is a very, very rare occurrence. According to Paulick, one of the necropsy reports even called attention to the number from this same trainer! And this man says he reviews each report?!

    From his title, a reasonable person would understand that an “Equine Medical Director” would have to take multiple unexplained sudden deaths of horses in his jurisdiction from ONE trainer as just about the most important matter that one can conceive! But who rang the alarm bells? Not this man, but apparently trainers . . . and not that I can see out of “jealousy,” as some on this board seem to imply! What horseman would be “jealous” of another horsemen whose horses are dropping dead, no matter how many races he’s winning?!

    Hell, it’s a matter of self-preservation for any trainer, that another trainer’s horses are dropping dead and the man in charge isn’t doing anything about it!!

    It would seem that the person in charge of equine medicine in that state better be looked at very carefully: why would he not have rung the alarm bell much sooner? Why wasn’t his hair on fire? Why wasn’t he informing his superiors? What kind of attempted whitewash went on in that meeting yesterday, when he apparently said all was well and normal?

    And is it true that the new chairman of the California Horse Racing Board (just like the old chairman who now runs Santa Anita) is constantly seen at Santa Anita in the company of the trainer in question, at his table, in his box, in the Winner’s Circle, and all that kind of stuff?!

    Makes me want to puke.

  • melissa martin

    someone needs to look into ” the wonder from down under ” PENTOSAN. there was a great article published in the thoroughbred times on december 10, 2011 about this drug. it had a lot of the same issues your article mentions. how curious!!

    • Hopefieldstables

      Pentosan has been used for many years all over the world. We have used it for many years with no ill affects. It is a very safe drug.

  • Patti Davis

    This is unthinkable, but I have to ask: would a trainer or an owner/trainer combo intentionally poison their own horses?

    • Knowitall

      No, not in this case, or with riders up. But they might push the envelope on supplement combos to make them train better and run faster. Highly doubt anyone is tampering in Baffert’s barn, either.

  • Richard C

    This sounds eerily comparable with the mysterious deaths of cyclists in the 1990s, which were eventually linked to the use of synthetic EPO.

  • Backontop

    And what about tweebster, Tweebster, TWEEBSTER? Funny how that horse fell through the cracks with zero follow up, unlike others in the past!

    • Knowitall

      There was follow up, Baffert even replied publicly, and the incident was not related to any sudden death phenomenon, nor was it a much different story than happens every day at a track near you. Except for the trainer’s high profile. Look at the owner, who made the decision to risk the drop instead of doing better by the horse. Better yet, let it go and move on. There is plenty for you to feast on right here.

      • Backontop

        The follow up I was hoping for would have been from Ray.

        • RayPaulick

          I have the necropsy report on Tweebster. Maybe it will have some info on any possible pre-existing conditions.

          • Backontop

            I think that would be interesting to know considering the big drop in class.

            I’ve heard lots of talk about these sudden deaths on the backside and it sounds like Mr. Baffert is working hard and spending lots of his own money to get to the bottom of it. He’s getting ripped pretty hard here and I’m pretty sure it’s not warranted, but if it was happening in another trainers barn I’m pretty sure he’d be the first to add fuel to the fire!

          • Matthew Martini

            I would be interested if Tweebster had pre-existing conditions. The class drop was suspicious. Evidently he passed all of the vet checks to race, but anyone watching Santa Anita that day knew that it was an odd race in which to see a horse with good back class be entered ($12K claimer, if I recall correctly). Many were shocked to see his name on the form that day, in that particular spot.

  • just me

    So what does it all mean? Somebody is poisoning his horses? He’s giving it to them in a “performance enhancing” supplement? One of the most widely prescribed human medicines, warfarin, was invented as a rat poison. I wonder if the racing authorities would consider it “theraputic” or “performance enhancing”?

  • Sara

    Is Bob Baffert the Lance Armstrong of Horse Racing? About time they figure this out! Save the horses and the industry!

  • tonilee

    If one of my horses collapsed on the track from an apparent heart attack, I would revisit my training, feeding, supplement, and vet system. If 2 of my horses died the same way, and I knew I was clean, and thought someone was out to frame me, I would do whatever it took to have surveillance at my barn. If 7 of my horses died, I would EXPECT others to put ME under the microscope. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. And there are too many ducks dying.
    As a trainer, owner and breeder, I am disgusted by the lack of integrity and concern for the welfare of the horse FIRST and foremost. Follow the money.
    I am also disgusted there has been no investigation into the rumors surrounding the euthansia of a horse in the Phoenix Gold Cup. There were too many backside rumors for there to not be ANY kernel of truth. The horse was sore, the exercise rider told the trainer the horse was sore, the jockey didn’t want to ride because the horse owned him nothing, the barn has its own shock wave machine, and the gelding was insured and this was rumored to be the last race. Really? I know accidents happen, they have happened to me.
    Too many tracks and those running the tracks sweep way too much under the rug.

    • Greg Jones

      Tonilee, everything you mentioned regarding Derive is true in the Phonix Gold Cup, the seven year old tore his suspensory ligaments and fractured both sesamoids in his left front ankle when he should have never been in the race! He was owned by Rick Wiest, and trained by Robertino Diodoro. His death SHOULD have been looked into…

  • Rommy Faversham

    Actually, I’m more interested in learning from Mr. Baffert what it was like to train a multiple classic winner for a key operative within al-Qaeda.

  • I posted on Facebook 2 MONTHS ago about just this, my answer stays the same EPO look at the side effects, it’s very expensive so low priced horses aren’t treated with it

  • bryan

    whatever he is using, when it is discovered, he should be made to take the same stuff himself.

  • blackcatlover

    When they play “My Old Kentucky Home” this year and at least three trainers’ poor horses come out onto the track, I’m going to puke.

  • Lexington 3

    If these sudden deaths are RARE then why are people commenting here jumping on COMMONLY used drugs, like Clenbuterol and Lasix, as causes?

    “RARE” is not the same as “COMMON”.

  • Erin

    No statement from Baffert yet? He’s just going to ignore this?

    • Knowitall

      You’d want to have your ducks in a legal row first. He didn’t get where he is by being an idiot.

  • anonymous

    To have horses drop over dead like this is just one more nail in the coffin of the racing industry. As one said above, any industry that is not willing, or apparently even able to police itself from within is on its way bye bye. Bye bye racing.

  • thank you!!!!! The Paulick Report!!!!! has filed a public records request with the California Horse Racing Board for copies of the necropsy reports of the deceased Thoroughbreds.

  • A sixth death occurred on Dec. 21, 2012, when a 3-year-old gelding
    galloping in the morning at Hollywood Park went down, succumbing to what
    the necropsy report said was a “massive abdominal/thoracic cavity
    hemorrhage.” This was Caracortado, claimed from Puype and was HEALTHY!! I will continue to say these are all caused by EPO!!!

  • NataliePR


  • JR

    Baffert, O’Neill, Dutrow on and on. Some have better PR programs than others. Its’ all dirty and each one has to live with the misery of every life they have destroyed.

  • RJ

    If you folks think you or anyone else is going to change racing you are dreaming. This subject has been talked about for 30 years without change. Until you truly own racehorses and pay the bills and work on the backside and see what really goes on you have no idea of the abuse.
    Let me briefly explain: I cannot spend the time explaining the details of each

    Lasix kills the heart
    EPO causes clotting
    Rat poison or Warfarin thins the blood preventing clotting
    Bute masks sore horses
    Jockeys cheat
    Trainers cheat
    Stewards cheat
    Gate crews cheat
    Vets cheat

    Until you realize this industry is based on gambling dollars and it will always be crooked you will be delusional about any solution to fix the problem.

    I have heard all the rescue group people in this country, all the animal lovers, all the experts, armchair lawyers etc etc. for 30 years, and animals are still being abused to death. These people are bloggers without power but would not spend the time to speak to their representatives.

    This is why my stable of horses no longer races in this state.

    Until Federal Laws on Interstate Gambling are enforced and trainers and owners, jockeys and stewards that cheat are locked up in Federal Prison, there will not be the threat for these people to stop abusing animals.
    Enough said.

  • RJ

    Look up Total Enhancement Equine Muscle Mass ( San Juan Capistrano, California) it is sponsored by Baffert. The owner of this laboratory told me Baffert doubles the recommended dosage.
    It guarantees an absurd muscle gain in weeks. My filly put on 40 lbs of muscle in 1 month then could not walk out of her stall ( almost destroyed her liver) and Baffert doubles the dosage?????? and no one knows what that guy puts in that stuff but guarantees it will not test. I would never give my horses that junk again.

    Even with this being said, Baffert and O’Neill are fooling with the big stuff. EPO. Increase the amount of blood, it clots and you die. Most horse drop right in the stall as the infusion is given, this is why they give Coumadin or Warfarin with it to thin the blood to prevent clotting. I guarantee any horse with rat poison (Warfarin) (Coumadin) is being doped.

    Listen even Lance Armstrong fooled the stringent testing committee for years. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) tests its’ athletes for thousands of drugs….. horse racing hundreds. I can make a Racemic drug that will never test. Just a mirror image of any substance available and will not test.

    Race tracks take in almost a million per race but will not spend the money for cameras or security. They don’t care, they don’t want to know. They don’t want problems or suspensions because the trainer threaten to move their horses out of state.

    Finally, it took New York to watch O’Neill last year at the Belmont and guess what…. he scratched. Word is Kentucky and New York will watch these guys closely this year. I wouldn’t bet on their horses this time.

  • RayPaulick

    Followup to those who asked about whether these horses were insured. Six of seven were not insured.

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