Bobby Zen

Trainer Richard Baltas has lost his petition for a writ of mandate against the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), ending a legal tussle stemming from multiple charges of administering race-day supplements to his horses at Santa Anita in the spring of 2022.

In a ruling publicly posted in early December of 2022, the CHRB handed Baltas a one-year suspension and a $10,000 fine for the alleged race-day administration of substances to his horses more than 20 times over roughly a three-week span the prior spring, and captured on surveillance video.

The CHRB has strict rules on what can be administered to a racehorse of up to 24 and 48 hours of post time, with only Lasix a permitted medication on race-day.

The judgement of LA Superior Court Judge, Curtis Kin, found that while both parties agreed that Baltas’s trainees had been administered substances not permitted on race-day, “no post-race samples from any of the horses tested revealed the presence of a prohibited substance”–a distinction the trainer is keen to highlight.

“Mr. Baltas accepts responsibility for administrating (sic) the substance in question on race day but believes the public and horse race industry should know the product in question was not a drug, was not prohibited in list of prohibited substances under CHRB Rule 1843.2, and certainly was not administrated as a performance enhancing drug,” wrote Baltas’s attorney, Steven Haney, in a press release on the ruling.

The CHRB declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.

The product in question was “X-Treme Air Boost,” a herbal paste believed to contain higenamine and paenol. According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), higenamine is a chemical found in a variety of plants and can act as an anti-asthmatic to open up airways. Paenol is also a plant extract.

Neither are specifically classified by the Association for Racetrack Commissioners International uniform guidelines.

Baltas’s suspension lifted at the end of last year. So far this year, he has trained 13 winners from 62 runners, including GIII Monrovia S. winner Ag Bullet (Twirling Candy).

Back in May of 2022, surveillance cameras fitted across the Santa Anita backstretch caught one of Baltas’s employees administer via oral syringe a substance to one of the stable’s runners within hours of its scheduled race.

A subsequent retroactive review of surveillance footage from Baltas’s barn prompted the CHRB to file a formal complaint. At the order of track management and regulators, Baltas did not make any California starts after early May 2022. He was formally charged that December.

On April 4 this year, Judge Kin presided over a writ of mandate hearing in which Baltas sought damages and a reversal of the CHRB’s initial findings, among other requests.

While the judge found that Baltas had breached the rules on what can be administered on race-day, he was not in breach of an aspect of CHRB rule 1887, which pertains to the trainer “absolute insurer” clause, wrote Haney in the press release.

The rule states that “If the chemical or other analysis of urine or blood test samples or other tests, prove positive showing the presence of any prohibited drug substance defined in Rule 1843.1 of this division, the trainer of the horse may be fined, his/her license suspended or revoked, or be ruled of.”

According to the judge, none of the Baltas trainees tested positive post-race for prohibited substances. According to Baltas, he has no intention of pursuing any further legal proceedings related to the case.

“My time is served,” said Baltas. “Did I make a mistake? Yes. [The suspension] was a year-and-a-half. That’s just the way things are. And I’ve had to start over. I’m grateful to be back.”

The post Baltas Loses Petition Against CHRB; No Prohibited Substances Detected, Says Judge appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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