The California Horse Racing Board revealed that another one of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s charges, Merneith, tested positive for a banned substance.

Merneith-Positive Test
Bob Baffert’s Merneith became his fourth horse this year testing positive for a banned substance. (Image: Coady Photography)

Merneith tested positive for dextromethorphan, a common ingredient found in human cough syrups. The test came after Merneith finished second in the fourth race at Del Mar on July 25.

According to the Sept. 17 CHRB complaint, the 3-year-old American Pharoah progeny tested positive on race day. Baffert requested a split sample, and that sample came back positive.

The Association of Racing Commissioners International classification system lists dextromethorphan as a Class 4 drug. Those drugs typically possess limited ability to improve performance and are therapeutic in nature. Typically, Class 4 violations concern drugs administered in larger than permitted quantities. Dextromethorphan can be used as an anesthetic in large quantities, hence its appearance on the ARCI classification system.

CHRB Opening the Curtain on All Drug Violations

There are five classes of drug violations. Class 4 are the second-lowest on the ladder, and aren’t typically reported. The CHRB said Tuesday it began reporting lower-level violations to increase transparency.

This violation is a Category B penalty, which brings a variable suspension ranging from 30 days up to a year, depending on previous violations from a licensee during a year period.

Baffert told the Paulick Report the violation came from one of his staff members taking cough syrup and accidentally contaminating the horse. He accepted responsibility for the test.

Baffert’s Fourth Positive Drug Test in 2020

The news on Merneith, a $600,000 purchase by Prince Sultan bin Mishal Al Saud, comes on the heels of another Baffert horse flunking a drug test. That was another filly, Gamine, who tested positive for betamethasone after finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks. Baffert said in a statement that came because the drug was administered outside of the proscribed 14-day window.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission hasn’t confirmed the split sample on that test yet.

That was the second time Gamine apparently failed a drug test. She and another Baffert charge, Charlatan, tested positive for lidocaine at Oaklawn Park in May. Both horses surrendered victories that day, and the Arkansas Racing Commission suspended Baffert for 15 days.

Earlier this year, Merneith finished third in the Santa Anita Oaks. She last raced on Oct. 11 at Santa Anita, winning an allowance optional claiming race.