Charlatan’s initial test comes back positive after Arkansas Derby

Charlatan, winner of the first division of the Arkansas Derby in his stakes debut May 2, had an initial test sample come back positive for an undisclosed medication. For a horse to have a positive called against him, a second test must confirm the original test’s results. Only then is a ruling issued. If the second test comes back negative, the horse is considered to have tested negative. 

If confirmed by a second test, it could result in his disqualification.

Charlatan was a front-running winner of the Arkansas Derby, his third win in three starts. The Arkansas Derby was run on Oaklawn Park’s closing day after being postponed from its original date of April 11.

A potential disqualification of Charlatan could impact his eligibility for both the Kentucky Derby, on September 5, and the June 20 Belmont Stakes..

Byron Freeland, the longtime attorney for the Arkansas Racing Commission, on Tuesday said he “couldn’t comment at all” about Charlatan or any other potential positive test at Oaklawn.

“Anything that’s going on before a ruling is confidential,” Freeland said.

Nikki Langston of the Arkansas Racing Commission on Tuesday said there “haven’t been any rulings” from the final day of the Oaklawn meeting. The commission was open for business Tuesday after being off the previous three days for the holiday weekend.

If Charlatan is disqualified, the race’s runner-up, Basin, would be promoted to first.

Santa Anita’s stewards on Monday said they were unaware of any potential rulings from Oaklawn Park against any locally based trainers, underscoring the belief that any split samples of any initial positive tests have yet to be completed.

But news of the initial test results filtered out, beginning Monday. On Tuesday, Charlatan’s trainer, Bob Baffert, put out a statement saying, “the rules of the Arkansas Racing Commission mandate confidentiality concerning any investigation into an alleged rule violation until there is a written decision of the stewards.”

“I am extremely disappointed that, in this instance, the Commission has not followed its own rules on confidentiality,” Baffert’s statement said. “I am hoping for an expedited investigation and look forward to being able to speak soon about any written decision of the Stewards, if and when it becomes necessary and I’m allowed to under the Commission’s confidentiality rules.”

Charlatan’s victory in the Arkansas Derby was worth 100 points on the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the Kentucky Derby, whose field is capped at 20. If he is disqualified, he would lose all those points and be at zero, as his first two wins were not in stakes.

As for the Belmont, that field has a maximum of 16 runners, with a three-tiered process for determining the field if it is oversubscribed, with the first two tiers related to earnings. But even if Charlatan loses his $300,000 purse earnings for the Arkansas Derby, he still could get in if he is one of three horses chosen for the race by a committee. And that’s assuming he’s even entered, and the number of entrants is more than 16.

Charlatan won a maiden race and an allowance race at Santa Anita before traveling to Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby. He is currently training at Santa Anita. Charlatan is expected to have his first work since the Arkansas Derby in coming days.

Nadal won the second division of the Arkansas Derby, also for Baffert and also to remain unbeaten. He also is under consideration for the Belmont. His Arkansas Derby test came back clean, co-owner George Bolton said Tuesday. Nadal has had one work since the Arkansas Derby, going a half-mile in 48 seconds on May 20 at Santa Anita.

Many of the current owners of Charlatan were involved in the partnership of Justify. 

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