Popular thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert and his staff have been cleared in the sudden deaths of 7 racehorses during at his Hollywood Park barn by the California Horse Racing Board. The deaths, which occurred between Nov. 2, 2011 and March 14, 2013 involved 5 animals who died while in training and 2 in racing; the majority attributed to cardio-pulmonary failure, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the CHRB.
In addition to performing necropsies, and taking urine samples, investigators also tested the soil in Barn 61 North (which was originally built as a quarantine area for Breeders’ Cup races), as well as the air quality, but Arthur stated they found nothing wrong. However one horse did have rat poison in its system, which could have “contributed to its demise.”
It was also noted that all 7 of the horses had died while taking a thyroxine, a (legal) thyroid hormone that was prescribed by a veterinarian at Baffert’s request. Baffert told investigators he’d been using the hormone, Thyro-L, in his horses for over five years to”build them up,” although the hormone is usually used to help horses lose weight. Baffert stopped using the drug after the last horse died.
"I'm gratified that the CHRB and staff completed its investigation and found there was no wrongdoing," Baffert said via text. "My focus will continue to be on providing the best care for my horses."
Baffert is one of the most recognizable as well as feted trainers in the history off thoroughbred racing. Recent runners include Bodemeister, Paynter, Game on Dude, Secret Circle, and Mighty Lucky, to name a few.