BILL DWYRE

Horse deaths are troubling to Bob Baffert

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Arthur also said that, although final toxicology reports will come this summer, he and his investigators have been unable to find a single cause, or any wrongdoing.

"From the start," Arthur said, "Bob has been cooperative and supplied us with everything we asked for."

Baffert is angry that he has been deemed guilty of something that isn't even defined by his accusers. He calls them "the hate guys" and says that one, a fellow trainer he would not identify, called PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to complain.

Lukas was not surprised.

"When I moved from Los Alamitos, to the thoroughbreds," he said, "there were only three trainers comfortable enough with their career to welcome me — Charlie Whittingham, Laz Barrera and Bob Wheeler. The rest, I was lucky to get a 'good morning' nod.

"Back in the late '70s, Laz and I both got a cocaine positive. Everybody was pointing fingers. I didn't even know what the stuff looked like. Laz was crushed, calling me at night, crying over the phone.

"Turned out a guy in the lab was not only using cocaine, but selling it."

And Lukas' Shakespeare-like conclusion?

"We have a sport with great camaraderie," he said, "but not one with a great support system."

So Baffert is left twisting, not knowing whether to be or not to be.

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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