Baltas Accused of Multiple Banned Substance Infractions

The California Horse Racing Board formally issued a regulatory complaint June 21 against trainer Richard Baltas, a month and a half after track operator 1/ST Racing began prohibiting him from racing or breezing horses at Santa Anita Park and other 1/ST Racing tracks pending an investigation. Over the past month and a half, many horses from his California barn have been dispersed to other trainers.

A complaint differs from a stewards’ ruling in that it is an alleged violation that has not been adjudicated.

In the complaint, the board stated between April 15 and May 8, 23 of Baltas’ horses were captured on surveillance video being administered Higenamine and Paeonol by members of Baltas’ staff. He is expected to appear before the board of stewards July 1 at Los Alamitos According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Higenamine is a stimulant that is classified as a beta-2 agonist, which means it is banned at all times—in and out of competition. Paeonol, according to the National Library of Medicine, has been used for decades as an anti-inflammatory for people.

1/ST Racing’s action followed the late scratch of a Baltas-trained horse, Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran’s Noble Reflection from the 10th race May 8 at Santa Anita for what was classified in stewards’ minutes as “stewards’ scratch”—not one designated such as “also-eligible,” “veterinarian-sick,” or “veterinarian-injured.”

Unlike sanctions issued by regulators, which are honored due to reciprocity, a private-party suspension rarely extends beyond the operator that issued it.

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Trainer Richard Baltas
Photo: Benoit Photo

Trainer Richard Baltas

Last month, shortly after the 1/ST Racing action, CHRB executive director Scott Chaney acknowledged that Santa Anita had shared video footage with the stewards “with respect to (the circumstances of the scratch), and some additional footage beyond that.”

California has some of the strictest pre-race treatment rules of any jurisdiction, limiting medication treatment within 24 hours to Lasix. Within that window, CHRB regulations state that “only water may be used to wash the horse’s mouth on race day” and “drugs, medications, or any other substances may not be administered.”

Regulators and courts regard trainers as the absolute insurers of their horses, meaning they can be sanctioned for the actions of employees or other parties.

Because the action was made by a track operator and not a regulator, Baltas has still been able to participate elsewhere to a limited degree in racing over the past month and a half. He has run seven horses since the incident occurred, with six of them racing at Churchill Downswhere he maintained a small division of horses, and the other at Lone Star Park with a shipper for a stakes race.

Chaney previously said the CHRB does not have the authority to summarily suspend a licensee in advance of a formal ruling, after a case involving a summarily suspended jockey was overturned in California Superior Court.

He said investigations, in general, can take time to ensure accuracy to potentially conduct interviews, testing, and provide a 10-day notice requirement when a complaint is filed in advance of a hearing.

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