In early May, Corey Martinez, who is in charge of video surveillance at Santa Anita, went through videos of the stables of the horses scheduled for the May 8 race, just to double-check that the last dose of Lasix was within time guidelines .
But what he saw was surprising. A staff member of trainer Richard Baltas was seen injecting Noble Reflection product into the horse’s mouth. Regardless of the type of medication, it is illegal to administer medication within 24 hours of the race. The sports stewards were informed and the horse from the 10th race was scratched.
Santa Anita then launched an investigation, as did the California Horse Racing Board.
The track essentially suspended Baltas on May 12, not allowing him to compete on horses at the 1st/Racing tracks, which included Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. On Tuesday, the CHRB went a step further and filed a complaint against Baltas, alleging that he violated the drug administration rule on 23 counts after a horse was registered, violating the insurance rule on 23 counts of the trainer and having committed prejudicial conduct in one race.
The trainer’s insurance rule states that regardless of his presence around the horse, the trainer is responsible for his condition and the substances in his body. Those who were aware of the investigation but were not allowed to comment told the Los Angeles Times that Baltas was not personally seen feeding his horses.
The crimes are said to have occurred between March 15 and May 8.
Attorney Darryl Vienna, who represents Baltas, did not comment on the allegations.
A hearing was scheduled for July 1.
Martinez’s discovery prompted 1st/Racing Chief Operating Officer Aidan Butler to request a review of videos of other horses in Baltas’ care. What they found, according to several people with knowledge of the investigation, was that there were multiple instances of administration of an oral nutritional supplement believed to be used to assist breathing.
Santa Anita officials, who declined to comment publicly during an ongoing investigation, had no explanation as to why the previous alleged violations were not discovered earlier.
The complaint said the tests showed the presence of Higenamine and Paeonol, both supplements devoid of traditional performance-enhancing properties.
“We’ve put so much effort into making California the safest racing destination in the world and that remains the charge,” Butler told The Times last month. “So we will never condone anyone messing around.”
The CHRB took the complaint from Santa Anita’s enforcement record.
After not being allowed to race in Santa Anita, Baltas transferred all of his Southern California-based horses, about 80, to other trainers. Baltas has since raced six times at Churchill Downs in Kentucky and once at Lone Star in Texas. Santa Anita’s season ended on Sunday.
Prior to his suspension from Santa Anita, Baltas had 164 starters with 24 wins, 34 seconds and 19 thirds for over $1.9 million in prize money.
Baltas spoke out at Santa Anita in his criticism of coach Bob Baffert. The Hall of Fame coach is currently ending a 90-day suspension after former Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a legal drug but was not legal on race day. Many of the details surrounding Medina Spirit’s positive test are in various stages of litigation.
On April 21, 2021, Baltas got into a scuffle with Tim Yakteen, a former Baffert assistant. According to a CHRB incident report, Baltas said it started when Baltas told Yakteen, “Your boy got away with it again,” which Baltas said, Baffert opined. Yakten responded with expletives, and soon they were rolling on the ground “without hitting.” A security guard was slightly injured when breaking out.
Both coaches were fined $500.
The comment came after two Baffert horses who tested positive for lidocaine in Arkansas were recovered as winners after the substance was found to have been ingested due to contamination, as horses in other barns also tested positive. While Baffert’s suspension was lifted and wins and purses restored, Baffert was fined for violating the coach’s insurance rule.
On the same day as the scuffle, Baffert asked for a security guard to visit his barn. According to a report by Security Officer William Griffin, Baffert said: “Richard Baltas has been berating him for a few months now. Baffert stated that every time Baltas sees him, Baltas starts yelling at Baffert by saying, “You guys always cheat and you always get away with it.” ”
The report ended with Baffert saying, “I always felt like he was jealous of me. … I don’t trust Baltas, he’s very suspicious. I’m glad they have cameras here.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-06-21/chrb-issues-complaint-richard-baltas-23-medication-violations CHRB issues 47 racing complaints against trainer Richard Baltas