Baffert: ‘Deaths Are Personally Troubling’

by | 04.12.2013 | 5:41pm
Trainer Bob Baffert

Trainer Bob Baffert responded to recent media attention regarding an unusually high number of cardiac arrest-related deaths in his barn with a statement via Eric Rose, a partner in the public relations firm of Englander, Knabe and Allen on Friday. Seven Baffert trainees have died unexpectedly since November 2011 of causes related to cardiac, respiratory, or vascular issues.

The statement reads as follows:

“The safety of my horses has been and always will be the most important thing to me. The mysterious deaths are personally troubling and of great sadness to me, my family and the owners of the horses. My heart goes out to the horses' owners.

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

“I hope that research by CHRB and its pathologists will discover information helpful to understanding the reasons that I, and many of my colleagues, have had horses suffer this unfortunate fate.”


    And after he said that he said…. And live from New York it’s Saturday night

  • What a difference a year makes (the song). Bob is one of the chosen ones who isn’t treated like everyone else.

    The man, the myth, the legend, the cover up. California Racing is as corrupt as it’s ever been in my opinion.

  • Arazi

    Give me a break
    If you care that much stop running until you find the reason!

  • Richard C

    A comment through an attorney is nothing but legal mumble-jumble. Baffert needs to come out of hiding and answer questions from the media…..honestly and without a human crutch who has billable hours.

    • As if he would tell the truth! There were 19 sudden deaths is all of CA racing in 2011-2012 racing year. SIX of those were Baffert trained – very high odds. With 3 belonging to the same owner – the odds become astronomical. I’m sure the deaths are not a mystery to Mr. Baffert.

    • circusticket

      How about a Congressioonal hearing? Just like they did for baseball!

  • DinkyDiva

    He didn’t really say anything!!! Personally, troubling?? yah think??? Figure it out Bob! Just to think, I was starting to like him as a trainer. It makes one think, if what’s going on in his stable had to do with Paynter and Bode’s demise?? Hmmm. Sad situation, all the way around. What about asking the owners? Grooms?

  • Ben

    I have known and watched Bob Baffert for 40 years. I have been in his barn many times. I know that he cares about people and horses. And I think any wise person . . . in a situation such as this . . . if they were going to make a statement they would make it through an attorney.

    • Dobeplayer

      But the statement was from a PR person, not an attorney

    • Barney Door

      Dead horses be damned. Your endorsement is good enough for me.

  • Hopefieldstables

    So let me see if I get this straight…………

    There is no spike………. but………..we are investigating.

    We are going to find out the cause …….but………we know already Baffert has done nothing wrong

    I am glad it is all clear now.

    • JanWindsong

      Yeah, see how easy that was.

  • chickspick

    when in racing at Chgoland tracks Arlington had several because it was 104 degrees by 2pm and i observed a gelding at Hawthorn do the same but gelding was not in race condition. I imagine that would not have been the case with Bafferts. I have seen far too many horses that trainers say they are racing them fit. Owners are often to blame as well. they gotta see their babies run and don’t want to wait and put pressure on trainers. Often too, owners have babies training on farms and “think they are race fit”. all that money is in the colt/filly and they want to win it back. A friend and trainer always would say the worse thing an owner can get his hands on is a condition book. that is so true

    • watcher

      There is so much that goes into the high dollar horses today that can all contribute to a fatal breakdown or death. lets go back to the farms where they prep horses to look like three year olds at the yearling sale…this push in early growth may set up later problems…then the meds to keep them in training too young too they can breeze too fast. Then the trainer has the problem of owner saying we paid a lot we need action! the art of keeping horse going by medicating the problems may hide underlying issues…we need old fashioned horsemanship and common sense to come back into the training!

      • Roisin

        As an example : I know an owner who payed A LOT of money for a 2yo in training, a beautiful looking colt. After the purchase the colt did not do well for awhile and his appetite was poor. The owner, whom I know very well, mentioned that the colt was most likely” pumped up on steriods” for the sale and was now going through “withdrawl”. I mentioned that I woud have done a blood test on the colt but he just shrugged me off. The colt, now a 4yr, old has won a couple of graded stakes but has had “problems” and only races infrequently. I wonder what the early “medications” did to this colt ??

        My point is that owners bear some responsibility. They should not go along with the current practices in the Thoroughbred industry from start to finish. Maybe it is a case of too much money, too much ego and a “don’t rock the boat ” attitude, as long as I’m winning?

        • nu-fan

          And, could some of these owners be ignorant about horses as well as latch on to any big-name trainer with a bunch of wins, regardless of how these races were won? I’ve never seen a chart of current trainers (is there one?) with a percentages of wins listed. Figure that if a trainer has a large number of horses in his/her stable, more wins would be logical. However, if I had a few dollars available to buy a decent racehorse, I would look at the trainer’s background, experience, and the number of other horses in his/her stable. If there are a lot of horses, how important would my horse be to that trainer? Why would I want to go to that “volume” trainer? Would that trainer really care that much about my own horse? Maybe, not. And, how in the heck can any trainer pay that much attention to each horse if there are many of them? Regardless, B.Baffert is responsible for what goes on in his stable and can’t plead ignorance.

          • There is a list of trainers by win percentages.

            The link above gives trainer stats for 2012. If you click on the column Win% it will sort by win percentage as opposed to money. I do understand going with famous trainer if you have the money. Personally (if I weren’t a trainer) I would want a trainer who would actually look at my horse every day and be able to recognize him in the shedrow..

            No one can train 400 horses. It’s not possible. Volume trainers set up a factory style stable with asst, trainers and foremen. There is no other way. So who is training your horse? Not the famous volume trainer, unless your horse is one of the best in the country.

            There are trainers with better stats than Baffert and Pletcher but they are not famous, and they don’t get the chance to train the best horses.

            Volume trainers must trust the info they get from grooms, etc. Personally I want to see things for myself. I do think personal care is best. That way you have the best chance of knowing when something is not quite right with your horse.

          • nu-fan

            Maureen: First, thank you for that link. I look at Equibase but have never looked at the stats menu that you pointed out. Will do so as soon as possible. However, statistics can be tricky to read. Second, I am in full agreement with you as well regarding trainers with high volume of horses. If I was an owner, I would want a trainer that did exactly what you describe as personal care, not just handed over to one of many assistants and grooms–and, a trainer that reflected my values and standards. I would want the best trainer that I could get but I would be looking at not just the “big” names but the names of those who did look at my horse every day. You are right. How would one know if something is not quite right unless they know what the norm is? And, sometimes, it is just those little nuances of change that can be missed unless one knows what they are looking at. Again, thank you.

          • I agree that statistics can be misleading, but trainer stats are not those kind of statistics, they are simple; number of races run, number of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes. Grant you, that does not tell the whole story about a trainer, However, to me, those who can win with what are called “cheap” horses, could possibly be better horsemen, Though not necessarily. John Henry and Seabiscuit are good examples that not everyone can win even with a talented horse. I doubt John Henry would have become the legend he was (and is) if he’d been in Bob Baffert’s factory stable.

  • Charlie Davis

    ” California Horse Racing Board’s Bo Derek and the state’s equine medical director, Dr. Rick Arthur have made it clear that nothing I have done has caused any horse I have trained to suffer equine sudden death syndrome.”

    Well, as long as Bo Derek says it, it must be true. Give me a break, what a worthless statement. Basic CYA, with a whole bunch of BS thrown in.

  • Tinky

    Speak through a PR firm so as to reduce the chances of self-incrimination, and obstruct any penetrating questions? Check

    Make unsubstantiated claims suggesting innocence? Check

    Imply, disingenuously, that “colleagues” have suffered similar tragedies, when in fact, the numbers in his own barn stand out like a sore thumb? Check.

  • Matt Jacobson

    I have owned, trained, and bred both standardbred and thoroughbred racehorses going on forty years. I have been suspended for a medication violation that I was guilty of the details of which profoundly changed my life. Eight other people were also suspended all as the result of a rougue vet who received a lifetime ban. Having said that, let me be clear. I have never seen a racehorse die suddenly and as I said, this is 40+ years talking. I know it happens. But for a trainer to have it happen SEVEN TIMES IN LESS THAN TWO YEARS IS IN COM PRE HENSIBLE. I don’t want a hearing, I don’t care what Bo effing Derek says, or Rick Arthur or anyone says. For the love of these amazing animals, for their SAFETY, Bob Baffert should bring his license into the CHRB, tear it up and accept a lifetime, eternal ban from anything to do with horses. He should then fly to Saratoga and ask that any and all references to him, pictures of hjim, or plaques about him be taken from the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame-he’s in the Hall of Fame-for the love of God this man is in the HALL OF FAME. What has happened to the people that police this sport, report on this sport, run this sport??????? Do you have ANY idea what 7 instant deaths from one barn in less than 2 years means?????????? HELLO…HELLO…HELLO…ARE YOU THERE??????????? ANYONE??????????????????????

    • Well said.

      This is a prime example of what is wrong with racing. And why it’s dying. Closed eyes, lies, and business as usual. It’s extremely sad.

      • William Anton

        Maureen, we seem to agree one more time. As for Mr. Jackson, I am leaning towards his thoughts and wording quite strongly.

    • DinkyDiva

      Well said!

    • exactabet

      Hey Matt why don’t you tell us! You’re coming across like a bitter convicted cheater with an axe to grind. No evidence of wrong doing, no hearing, and banishment from racing and the hall of fame. Well Herr Hitler the world doesn’t work that way anymore. If the is any proof of wrong doing then I want to see Baffert punished. If he is cleared of any wrong doing in the deaths of these horses then I expect you to apologize to him personally. It’s screaming crackpots like you that will be the ruination of this sport. Fearmongers like you

      • <3 A Horse


    • Beachy

      Thank you for saying this.

    • Greg Jones

      Bravo Mr. Jacobson, perfectly stated, thank you.

    • McGov

      I agree with most of what you typed here…well said.

      For me, the truth is this simple: I don’t want to believe that Baffert is a bad guy…not for one second. The guy is charismatic and so so soooooo good for the sport…ya just don’t want to believe it.

      I’m sure there is an explanation for all these deaths…and I’m also sure that I won’t like it when I learn it.

      My gut says insurance.

    • <3 A Horse

      Kudos Matt.

  • JLC

    This probably just happens to be the trainer to whom this has happened, if you all will excuse my redundancy. And I am not negating the fates of those poor horses, which make me nauseous. But again, the larger point, as evidenced by the statistics outlined in the articles linked on the other thread, is that these sudden deaths seem to happen much more where there is the(probably) injudicious use of various drugs, especially those that tend to have deleterious effects on serum electrolytes and/or cardiopulmonary/vascular health. What is so blooming hard about using Europe and Hong Kong as examples on this score? They’re doing something right; their stats look better. And there’s still races being won and money being made over there.

    Find some horse vets with some ethics and investigate this–and then if the horse vet or pathologist is able to tell you “this is why it happened”, then you need to STOP doing whatever caused it, unless you want this effect–and speed and money here should, for once, be subordinate.

    And maybe, then I woke up. :-/

    • HelenBach

      “Find some horse vets with some ethics…”. There are many. However, expecting the major source of medication abuse to put a stop to it is a bit unrealistic.

      • JLC

        Unrealism and untruth is not my M.O. “Finding some horse vets with some ethics” would most likely include outside consultants who are not already working on the backside. Here’s a question: How much medication administration do you think may be going on undocumented? Ponder that…

        • Red Rider

          You and Diogenes. Happy hunting!

          • JLC

            Me, Diogenes, and War Academy, who sadly was just pulled up in the Arkansas Derby. Perhaps a cynic is just a realist with a bigger mouth. And I hope War Academy is ok; at least he walked off the track under his own power.

    • Exactly. If he was innocent of any wrong doing, wouldn’t he want to clear his name? Wouldn’t he suggest the state run blood tests on all his horses? That’s what I would do. I wouldn’t want that cloud hanging over my head.

    • Of course may be he IS going to do that – after enough time has gone by for the drugs to clear their systems.

  • Scott Ramsay


    Word has reached Kentucky that the well-known advocate for welfare of horses Bo Derek was observed meeting with Mr. Baffert very amiably before yesterday’s commission meeting. How nice.

    Then, after the meeting, the “esteemed” commission chair the “honorable” Mr. Israel took his customary place with Bob at the races. All very chummy.

    So today we see that the state’s chief regulatory veterinarian and Bo herself have already exonerated Bob from any responsibility, at least so Bob says.

    I guess they all must know what happened to those horses. And it had nothing to do with the person who had them in his care, custody, and control. How remarkable that some trainers are absolutely responsible for anything that happens, and others apparently are not.

    • Scott, keep up the good work. You da man.

  • saul d

    I always look at the horses Baffert trains with a quwstioning eye. It is my personal feeling that he rushes all the horses in his care from the moment he gets them with the idea of winning stakes races. Of the many two year olds that he gets in his charge each year I wonder how many of them are still racing at 3 years old. Perhaps time has caught up with him and his horses are paying the penalty

    • swiss305

      You hit the nail on the head. I’ve also felt that he has way too many horses to take good care of all of them. It is all about the 3-year-old classics and all other stakes. He also recognizes very early on the horses which have little or no talent. Losing them to “natural causes” or injury on the track yields insurance compensation. The owner gets more of his investment back that way. If we ever learn what’s really going on, I’m afraid we will be horrified and the CHRB knows this.

      • That’s a really good point. The next dead horse of Baffert’s should be tested like a murder victim. None of this clearly casual necropsy crap. Full toxicology workups should be done. And organs examined for prior damage. A forensic pathologist should do it, not the track or the state vet.

      • Roisin

        Exactly ! That is why the CHRB should not be doing the investigation. This calls, loud and clear, for an ad hoc committee with no ties to CA racing. That way we might get to the bottom of this outrage. As things stand currently, don’t hold your breath !

  • upstarthere

    As usual, too little, too late. And isn’t that close to what he said about Tweebster when he finally commented about Tweebster’s demise?

    Again, in the NYT article yesterday, Dr. Uzal (who actually does the necropsies in Cali) was quoted as saying “researchers are stymied in the search for answers because of lack of information from the trainers and their vets.” Lets see how long it takes for him to say he was misquoted.

    Don’t the Wests (We may sue or at least threaten the Breeders Cup if our horses can’t run on Lasix) use Baffert as their trainer?

  • Greg Jones

    Mr. Baffert,

    Two 2-yr-old males, a 3-yr-old gelding, Irrefutable, Uncle Sam, El Corredor, and Miner’s Daughter are all dead within a 16 month period, all died suddenly. You say, “The mysterious deaths are personally troubling and of great sadness to me, my family and the owners of the horses. My heart goes out to the horses’ owners.”
    YOUR next sentence SHOULD have been, “I am shutting down my barn to get to the bottom of this, money and stakes wins are not worth one of my horses dying suddenly. I hope all of the owners understand, but, not one more will die under my watch until I figure out why.”
    Instead, you continue business as usual Mr. Baffert, with those on the CHRB covering your behind. Sorry, a TRUE Hall of Fame trainer would stop their business as usual and figure out why the hell your horses are dying. A Hall of Shame trainer would do what you are doing Mr Baffert, sadly.
    Question for you Mr. Baffert, the next horse that dies suddenly under your care, would you call it expected or unexpected?

    • upstarthere


      Everyone needs to “search” Tweebster right here @ the Paulick Report for Baffert’s comments about Tweebster’s death almost a week after the fact.

      The headline according to Baffert…”Nothing lower than the death of a horse”.

      Oh I can think of a few things “lower” than the unnecessary death of a magnificent TB trying to do his best. How was that any different than Bruno Schickdanz and Wake at Noon?

      • Greg Jones

        Seven dead horses drop dead in sixteen months isn’t enough proof for people? Seriously? Why this isn’t a full scale all out investigation is due to the subject in question being named Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. End of story.

        If anyone doesn’t think Clenbuterol, blood clotting and/or EPO are behind these sudden deaths, well, you are either naive or blind.

        Unless evidence proves otherwise, I am convinced, as well as any other clear headed person would be. Just wish people in the business had the guts to ask the tough questions and do the right thing.

        • upstarthere


    • JanWindsong

      Exactly right, if I were in his shoes, no horse would leave the barn for exercise or racing until I knew what was causing the collapse and deaths. For him to continue is the only clue anyone needs that he did not care.

      • Really! And would you wait until there were 7? Wouldn’t you really start worrying at 3? Also, no one has said how many of the sudden deaths from previous years were trained by Mr. Baffert.

      • circusticket

        He knows what he has given to those horses.

  • Bless all those poor horses and condolences to their owners. :(

    • upstarthere

      Owners choose the trainer. The horses have very little choice on anything.

  • Probably wouldn’t be such a mystery if truthful and complete veterinary records were made public.

    • circusticket

      That would be too simple. You’re assuming everything done to the horse would be put on the record.

  • Tellas Moore

    Dr. Rick Arthur, CHRB Equine Medical Director, is quoted on as stating this “whole thing is about people who are trying to skewer Bob. His cases are unusual, but it is no more statistically unusual than that a lot of these cases are at Hollywood Park.” Let’s see:

    16 sudden death necropsy reports from June 2011 to March 14, 2013.

    7 of the 16 are trained by Bob Baffert

    Doesn’t seem statistically unusual to Dr. Arthur?

    While Dr. Arthur thinks this “whole thing is about people who are trying to skewer Bob,” some people might just be trying to figure out what happened to these horses. It appears the CHRB Equine Director and his nurse, Bo, think their major task is to care for poor Bob in his time of need rather than to do their duty finding out just what happened to these horses and to prevent any more “sudden deaths.”

    • Wow. People trying to skew Bob Baffert. That is really something. And so they offer “poor Bob” their support, standing by this innocent victim of suspicion. What it if was Rick Dutrow??? Why is Bob so special.

  • Abbers

    Baffert (and others of course|) = Snake oil and Scum. Nothing that this specimen does promotes the welfare of horses. It’s all about $$$$$$$s. I’ll bet he figured rat poison (anticoagulants) would make his horses run faster due to the blood thinning effect. Just the new “frog juice” trying to find a drug that will be under the radar as far as standard drug testing goes. This so-called sport is mostly disgusting and Baffert is simply one of the many that personifies it’s abuse. Disgusting.

    • Oscetra

      Have to thin out the blood from the EPO…

  • kyle

    Isn’t Rudy Rodriguez being made to go before the Kentucky licensing board? What is the threshold of…suspicion…concern … For such a requirement?

  • Helen Bach

    “Personally troubling”. Translation: “I am worried this might harm my reputation and my business.”



  • This is an total b…..t comment, lightning can struck you once, but not seven times in two yrs.

  • G. Rarick

    The fact that he used a PR firm to issue a statement that the deaths were “personally troubling” says it all, really.

  • voiceofreason

    The investigation will lead to nothingness, no one will be held accountable, no wrongdoings found, no guilty party and no changes to the status quo. The entire industry has neither the facility or desire to change, or find answers, ever. To expect anything but “business as usual” here is insanity. ‘Twas a great story… next!

    • Just like the NY Gaming Commission. Sad for the horses.

    • nu-fan

      Get the impression that they are all in the same bed?

  • Miss The Magic

    How about cardiac overload from blood doping.

  • The fact that Bo Derek is a Commissioner is a joke at best. Only Baffert and his staff know what really happened.

    • No kidding. I honestly believe she is just there for PR purposes. She is a known animal lover which gives the appearance that the CHRB cares, she is beautiful and famous. Smart of the CHRB, but if she was truly intelligent she would not buy that Mr. Baffert is completely innocent of any wrong doing. In fact, if she was such a staunch animal lover she should be suspicious. One has to question her intellligence.

      • Maureen….I do not question anything concerning the CHRB any longer. I give horse racing in California 4-5 years at best. The state and the overwhelming majority of people in it, are just too dysfunctional to do anything correctly.

        • It’s just so disappointing that no one seems willing to take real action. There’s ‘sometimes’ a show of action – like the security at the Derby. But unless they search people it’s not affecting cheaters a bit. I think there’s just too much money to be made by those that keep quiet. For instance, why do tracks harden the surface of the track when Bob Baffert comes to town? Who does he pay for that and how much? Cheaters are making money and those in power must be benefiting somehow – or are they all just cowards and idiots?

          • Cowards and idiots run our country and California…in every way possible.

          • Really it’s true. Look at racing. When a trainer is ruled off or they attempt to punish one, the trainer runs to the state court and gets off. But to me, their crimes should be seen as defrauding the racing public which puts it as a federal gambling crime. Since the states clearly NEVER pursue those charges, it’s pretty darn clear that racing jurisdictions do not want to clean up racing. That i the bottom line. The powers that be do not want to clean up racing. I am pretty certain they all just want to enjoy their take and figure it will be someone else’s problem when they retire or die. Common sense says everyone cannot be that stupid. Cowardly and crooked, yes, but not stupid.

          • nu-fan

            Cowards and idiots? Maybe, but, perhaps, it is more about greed. Win and make money any way you can! Isn’t that what we see in our society today? But, I believe that all of us contributed to this is some way. Perhaps, it is because greed is no longer considered as a bad thing by many people. From our elected officials to our corporate boards to our next-door neighbors–what do we see?

          • I may still be a little naive, but at 62 I have met far more passive, cowardly, and stupid people than I have truly greedy people. I think people start with good intentions and then find that to do what is right they must stand up to others. People don’t want to do it. People do not want to be disliked and they don’t like confrontation. Courage is lacking. So they give in, and then, since they’ve given in, they go along, and then when others are getting money, they want their share. But they were not innately greedy.

          • nu-fan

            My work involves me with plenty of very affluent people. Far too often, they respect only one thing: money! Lots of it. You are what you are worth. However, yes, there are a lot of stupid people as well but they have not gotten to the level in their professions that B. Baffert has. He isn’t stupid, cowardly or passive. What is he? Perhaps, he wants to win at any cost. What would that make him? Greedy.

          • No one was talking about Baffert regarding cowards and idiots. Bob Baffert is a master manipulator of people. Whereas Rick Dutrow is a cheat, he is what he is – he doesn’t put energy into creating a facade. I believe he genuinely likes working with horses and cares about them. Bob Baffert, IMO, is far worse that Dutrow because he is the total con man and cheat. He could give a **** less about horses they are just a means to an end.

          • nu-fan

            I was responding to someone else who referred to cowards and idiots. But, I do have have to agree with you on many of the other points.

          • Roisin

            Along with “Lots” of money there is lots of ego involved. As for Baffert, he obviously does not care about the horse despite what he says. If he did care he would have asked for some help in determining why all these young horses were dropping dead…did he know why, and think nobody would notice/ question. If the latter then hubris has taken over !

          • Cowards and idiots and other words I cannot type here…that is what we see.

          • Sue M. Chapman

            You know this to be true about track condition? How? Do you think Baffert is in cahoots with the Weather Gods as well?

          • No, I don’t have proof. But it’s very strange that when Mr. Baffert raced in NM a few weeks ago, commentators commented on the track being harder than usual, and track records were set. That is not the first time, by any means, that I have noticed the same thing happening. Mr. Baffert seems to favor speed horses and speed carries on hard tracks. Why do you think Santa Anita went back to dirt? I would venture Baffert was instrumental in that change. If you pay attention to the big races where Baffert ships in (not Belmont as that track is too deep to make it extremely hard) you will notice that times are faster, and you may hear a comment as to the hardness of the track.

      • Don’t forget she chose to run off w/John & stayed out of the US until she was “of age.” Her education was not a priority for her and the public backed her up on that.

  • And Bob, these deaths are not TROUBLING to your bank accounts or standard of living. But yet the horses are dead.

  • Sue M. Chapman


  • In tears

    I can’t look at Baffert when he is interviewed during the triple crown races. I don’t believe there is a honest word coming from his mouth. There is no respect for any animal around this man. Only interest is money. His whole demeanor says bad news. Shut him down.

  • Mimi Hunter

    There are way too many opportunities to do someting to horses for any of us to form an opinion about what is going on and/or who is responsible.

    • Let’s put it this way. if you DIDN’T know what was going on, and 7 of your horses dropped dead wouldn’t YOU be concerned? Wouldn’t YOU be investigating.

      • Mimi Hunter

        Do we know that he ISN’T investigating what is going on? I lived on a farm for 2 1/2 years that had been contaminated by hazardous waiste. I blamed myself for what was happening – it took over a year for me to admit to myself that there was something else going on. And yes, I lost everything I had – money, land, animals, everything – and almost all of my energy. I don’t particularly care for Bob Baffert, but I don’t think he should be hung until all the investigating is done.

        • If Baffert was investigating he would have played that card in the PR statement. By investigation I don’t mean having a groom look for rat poison in the feed room.

          • Mimi Hunter

            I don’t know as I’d advewrtise that I was investigating something in similar circumstances. Not if I wanted to catch the culprit so he/she doesn’t hide till the heat is off and then hit again.

          • Are you kidding me? You think there’s a third party doing this? No.

          • Mimi Hunter

            Not kidding. I’m NOT defending Baffert. He’s responsible because it’s his stable, but I would like to know: 1] if he knew about it and turned a blind eye 2] if he actually did it himself as some sort of training regimen 3] If he did it as some sort of insurance scam or 4] if somebody else is doing it to his horses to get even for something. There isn’t enough evidence to draw any kind of conclusion yet. We are always too quick to point the finger at someone guilty or not.

    • nu-fan

      Employers and business owners are responsible for what goes on in their place of business. If they don’t know what is going on, they are not doing their jobs and should be fired and, perhaps, face other legal consequences.

      • Mimi Hunter

        No argument with that statement at all, but I would like definite info on Who, How and Why.

        • nu-fan

          Moot point. The fact that it is happening in his business makes him responsible. He is liable for what occurs in his busiuness whether he is directly involved or someone in his employment acting on his behalf..

          • Mimi Hunter

            No, it’s not a moot point – it’s the only point. If you weren’t doing it personally and had no knowledge of it, wouldn’t you want to know who did it, how was it done, and mostly why. Especially since it’s going to be your fault regardless.

          • nu-fan

            Employers can be (and are) held liable for the actions of their employees whether they are aware of it or not. Please remember that: Employers may transfer authority to other employees but they may never transfer responsbility. That is Management 101!

  • dcurtis

    I would suggest all you armchair vets start doing a little research on the subject before you start being judge jury and executioner. I saw one die from this, this fall with NO drugs in his system. They can have heart problems from birth that really don’t show up till later. Could be the rat poison, analyze the feed, it does not mean necessarily that the trainer has done something wrong. Don’t be so quick to assume the worst, you are helping no one including the horses by doing this.

    • Are you a vet? Was it your horse that died so that you are sure there were no drugs in its system? If you read about the equine heart, horses naturally have few problems, the only serious one of note being a hole between the chambers of the heart which is easily diagnosed if the heart is checked. Drugs however, can and do cause problems. A racehorse with no drugs is a rare creature. A large number are given steroids before they are even sold as yearlings. Enough so that the Keeneland sale has a rule regarding it.

  • As one of the last of the “Mohicans” of my fellow Horseplayers
    to come to the realization that certain people will do ANYTHING to win I have
    to make a few comments. Particularly since a couple of people who I
    admire greatly have recently told me that I’m trying to destroy Horse
    Racing. I had to think about that for a while. The more I thought
    about the more pissed I became.

    What I realized is that some people would rather bury their
    heads in the sand than have the truth come out. This has been going on
    for decades and look where Horse Racing is now. I guess it makes them
    feel better when they don’t have to confront reality but that method of
    operation has led us to where we are now. Not in a good place.

    I came to the realization that a reasonable person can only
    conclude that “cheating” is going on in a big way and the welfare of the Horse
    is an afterthought in some outfits (What’s up with the well known Horse
    Advocate Bo Derek?). The statistic over the last three years that
    has been widely distributed is that Baffert has had 7 sudden deaths, cardiac
    events/aneurisms out of 16. If you go by the last 15 months the statistic
    is more startling. After listening to the CHRB meeting the other day I
    was shocked that some of the CHRB Board members and the Celebrity Equine
    Medical Director, Rick Arthur told us that we were imagining things and that
    there was no spike. Then I thought about why they would cover up
    something that NOBODY I know has ever seen before, EVER! The answer is
    BECAUSE THEY CAN. Madeline Auerbach was quoted in the San Diego Union as
    saying this all was “A bunch of Hogwash”. Really? Why do fat hogs
    fart Madeline? The answer is BECAUSE THEY CAN. The same goes for
    the David Israel’s, the Bo Derek’s, and the Rick Arthurs of the world.
    They are people without much integrity in my opinion and they proved it on
    Thursday. You can always tell someone’s character when they are under
    pressure. And it doesn’t look good.

    In my opinion Bob Baffert was using some sort of undetectable
    cocktail that ended up ending the lives of several horses. If that wasn’t
    true then why wouldn’t he have called in the FBI to investigate and search for
    some mysterious serial Horse Killer? I think after 4 you would want to
    have an investigation by someone. Saying you are “troubled” now doesn’t
    cut it. There is no doubt in my mind and it is my opinion that he knew the
    corrupt California Racing machine would cover up for him and he was

    Honestly, this has been the most disappointing couple of months
    of my life. Right and wrong don’t matter anymore. What matters are
    politics, ego, money, and the powerful politically connected inner circle of
    California Racing. They don’t hide it and it’s in our faces at every

    And yes, I have a beef with the Bafferts and Pegrams because I
    believe that they think they are ENTITLED to other peoples money and are doing
    a disservice to California Racing by not participating in finding the optimal
    takeout rates.

    • nu-fan

      Next tme those people, that you have admired, tell you that you are destroying horseracing, please enlighten them by explaining that the horseracing industry has been killing itself off for years. Why a decline in fan interest? Many reasons but what I, personally, hear is about the low ethics, criminal activities, drug use (on horses) and other forms of animal abuse that is perceived as being commonplace in horseracing. It’s not you or others who are expressing their concerns that it. I guess it is “kill the messenger….”

    • kyle

      Disappointing is the right word for it. Here’s what the powers that be don’t understand: horseracing offers the promise of Hemingway’s “clean, well-lighted place.” People are hungry for that. That would sell. That would sustain. That would flourish. What do we get instead? Chicanery is one thing, especially when it is opposed by an honest governing body. All encompassing mendacity and the rot of power and privilege is quite another.

  • ShelleyB

    There seems to be a “conspiracy of silence” for the most part, where even honest people
    (trainers, grooms, jockeys, handicappers, etc) stay quiet on the subject of drugging and other activities that are illegal, immoral, and/or deleterious to the horse (and the jockey). Why is that? Is there fear of a backlash from the industry if one breaks an unspoken code of conduct, worries about fans leaving in droves, and/or worries of a huge public outcry to ban the sport, or something else…..? I can see why people whose livelihood depends on the sport to stay quiet, including trainers, jockeys, grooms, exercise riders, professional handicappers, etc. Horses are noble animals… they carried us, fought with us, plowed our fields, etc. Notice that little to no info is given on TV or radio when a horse breaksdown, expect when there is human injury and/or it’s a higher level race. Where would civilization be without the horse? I am a new fan, but find myself struggling with the reality of breakdowns and other problems. I’m to a point of turning my attention away from the sport because I don’t want to support the problematic behaviors of cheaters and wish the best for the welfare of all horses.

    • I don’t think it’s a conspiracy of silence. There are several factors. First, I would say that the majority of grooms have no idea what is being done, even if they suspect things are being done. Trainers are secretive – grooms come and go and could talk. Then there is the other side, if a groom (or exercise rider, asst. trainer, etc.) did talk – to whom would they talk? Would anything be done? I doubt it, and probably so do they. As an example, Bob Baffert would just say it was a disgruntled employee. The person would be fired and that would be the end of it. For all we know people HAVE talked. I’m sure there are many people at the track who know the truth, participate in illegal and immoral activities, and wish things were different but feel helpless to change anything. Those who want change have to have support from the top. Support that is clearly not there.

      I am extremely torn myself. I have racehorses to train and half of me wants to train and race them and the other half wants nothing to do with the racetrack. My only goal in wanting to race is to show that happy, healthy, drug-free horses can race as well as, or better than, their unhappy, drugged counterparts.

      If there was a vote to ban racing I would have a hard time voting against it.

      IMO Bo Derek is a hypocrite and/or the perfect image of the classic dumb blonde. No horse lover could so casually defend Bob Baffert and believe whatever he says. The difference between Rick Dutrow and Bob Baffert, is that Bob is an extremely effective snake oil salesman and Rick is more honest. And a better horseman IMO.

  • Tonto

    What qualifies Bo Derek to be on the CHRB ? She has Andalusian show horses and ‘just loves horses”. I have been licensed as o/t in 7 states, 2 countries since the ’50s.. Question for Baffert- what did you give them Bob ???? We had horses that ran consistent times and raced from age 2 thru their 12 years old year, now the are ‘old’ at five.

    • jack

      Q. What qualifies Bo Derek to be on the CHRB ?

      A. ( . )( . )

  • jack

    “too big to fail”….look at Woods at the Masters….they couldn’t afford to DQ him. Rule of law has become a secondary concern….Baffert is the face of horse racing…..maybe they are afraid of what they might find if they dig too deep.

    • swiss305

      And he has some of the wealthiest owners who pay big prices at auctions and keep the races filled with all the horses they buy. It’s VERY interesting that three of the deceased horses belong to the same owner. That sounds like owner and trainer had a discussion and picked out the horses that would cost in upkeep more than they would ever earn or be sold for. Very suspicious. Also, I’m reminded of the incident after, I think, the Santa Anita Handicap two years ago when Game On Dude won. There was a stewards’ inquiry about the stretch run and the actions of jockey Chantal Sutherland. The stewards called down to the track to ask the jockeys about the incident and Bob Baffert took the phone to plead his horse’s case. HIGHLY improper. Trainer of the other horse in question,Richard Mandella, commented on the impropriety at the time and in a later interview. But Baffert’s win was upheld and nothing else ever came of it. Too big to fail is right.

    • ……The difference here is that the CHRB is a governmental agency where as The Masters is governed privately. Perhaps the public and press can have more impact on this group?

      ……Has anyone tried to interview Dr. Uzal? Previously it was noted that he is the one doing the necropsy investigations and noted the lack of information coming from the trainers and the veterinarians connected to the dead horses. Has anyone tried to ask CHRB why there isn’t a requirement of co-operation or bans enacted? Of what use is a report is those involved do not have to co-operate.

      ……Perhaps, since Bob Baffert is acting like Lance Armstrong acted, more public pressure needs to be applied and continued, to get to the bottom of what went into the “training regime”, including feed and supplements, of these horses. It could well be that what is involved is of a “natural” nature and we are talking unnatural amounts.

      ……Keep at it Ray and encourage all your cohorts too since some may not be willing to talk to you but will talk to others.

    • Bonnie

      Very well put, Jack.
      If they were to take down Baffert, the sport suffers a monumental public relations hit.
      He is the face of horse racing to the casual fan.

  • Rockbarton

    Et, tu, Dr. Arthur.For some reason, I’ve had faith in you over the years,looks like I was wrong. Water finds it’s own level.

  • I was an assistant trainer at a farm that broke babies for trainers all over the country, raced off the farm at a close racetrack, rehabbed injured horses, the whole shebang of the racing industry. In the 500 plus horses that went through my barn (120 stall barn) with horses shipping in and out year round, for 6 years. I only had one (1) death, and that was a freak accident where a yearling turned out in a paddock ( I was actually on vacation) fractured a leg during the night and had to be euthanized. Mind you, we had our share of the usual thoroughbred freaky accidents-resulting in a few minor injuries but NO sudden deaths And a large number of these breezed, and raced off of the farm. We did not use drugs. . . Only horses that got lasix were those that actually needed it. They always had their careers start out drug free for as long as possible. It wasn’t the automatic, Lasix, Bute and Banamine prerace meds that most of the horses out there get. Don’t tell me the overuse of drugs is not a factor in all of these obviously unhealthy horses.

    • I only know personally of one “sudden death”. Back in the late 70’s a trainer with whom I was friends confessed to me he had given the horse a shot for an upcoming race (hours) and the horse dropped dead in the stall shortly after. So I am well aware, first hand, that it happens. No one inquired, officially, as to why the horse had to be scratched because it dropped dead. Business as usual. Another incident, at Suffolk Downs in late 80’s. Horse appeared galloping loose in the stable area on a dark day. He ran right into a giant dumpster. A horse in his right mind would not run madly into a giant dumpster. He fell to the ground on his side, where he continued to gallop until euthanized. Took quite a while to find a vet as it was afternoon on a dark day. Not something I will ever forget and I did feel then as I do now, that he was given a drug that didn’t agree with him. I am sure there are genuine sudden deaths – but I believe most have human assistance.

  • Jerod

    “Deaths are personally troubling”……….but only once the media grabbed a hold of it.

    • Exactly. No mention was made by Baffert of the 1, 2, then 3 horses who died and were owned by the same owner. If Bob didn’t know what caused those deaths wouldn’t any normal person launch an investigation? Wouldn’t someone want to know IF the horses were being poisoned? The fact that business went on as usual after horse number 2 died shows that no one suspected foul play – since they knew the reason.

    • jen strack

      Yes, exactly

  • <3 A Horse

    There is not a whole lot good about thoroughbred racing anymore. The drugs, the slaughter issue, overbreeding, nurse mare foals and who knows what kind of other illegal crap goes on EVERYDAY. It makes me sick. These horses are nothing but a dollar sign, they are expendable. Granted there may be some honest horse people out there in the racing business but statistics speak for themselves. 7 sudden deaths…sure throws up a red flag. And Bob Baffert, you look like a snake!

  • Have they tested the horses for Warfarin (made from rat poison)….

    • They named the rodenticide as Brodifacoum. Here is what happened to a woman who was somehow poisoned by it.


      The case of a 46-year-old woman who survived after a brodifacoum poisoning is presented. The patient was admitted due to a severe coagulopathy. Initial prothrombin time and activated partial thromboplastin time were both greater than 110 seconds and the patient suffered severe gastric and pulmonary hemorrhage requiring fresh frozen plasma transfusion and parenteral phytonadione administration (up to 100 mg per day). Serum brodifacoum levels were determined by HPLC during seven months. Five days after admission, serum brodifacoum level was 1302 ng/ml. Serum brodifacoum levels decreased till day 209 when became not detectable. Brodifacoum elimination showed a first order kinetic and a 56-day half-life. Investigation of superwarfarin should be considered in any patient with vitamin K dependent coagulation disorder. It would be also useful to obtain periodic brodifacoum levels and build the corresponding elimination curve to help direct phytonadione therapy in poisoned patients.

      As you can see they call it super warfarin. Note the severe gastric and pulmonary hemorrhaging.

      • baymeadoze

        Who trains the other horses that have died??? Do those trainers win??? I remember when one of dr ricks buddies got a horse claimed from him and went on to win a grade one …that trainer didn’t win another race the rest of that summer after dr rick.launched his investigation…so lets see how many races bob wins the rest of the year

  • cheri

    I sure do agree with you, Matt. If the show off shyster had even a shred of decency in his sleazy being, he would step down with his head down.

  • Tonto

    The major trainers have a great ‘relationship’ with the Racing Commission. You can ‘test’ for anything IF you are willing to pay for the test- low bid labs do low bid work. If you drop the test on the floor and it doesn’t blow up it passes. That is why you don’t see the over 5 years olds running anymore- they don’t last very long with the medicate instead of train system.

  • s/s

    Baffert, O’Neill and others are protected by the state vet and the CHRB because they supply the horses to fill the races. In a collapsing industry, they are allowed to do anything they want. Why they are not watched closer when they race in other states is beyond me. They should have a camera and security guard on them any time they leave the state.

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