Report: Justify failed drug test before Triple Crown run

September 11, 2019 07:38pm
Report: Justify failed drug test before Triple Crown run
Photo: Mary Cage/HRN

The New York Times reported Wednesday that 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify failed a drug test following his victory in the Santa Anita Derby that would have disqualified him from making the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Reporter Joe Drape penned the article, which alleges the California Horse Racing Board of failing to follow usual protocol with the failed drug test.

Justify reportedly tested positive for a high amount of the banned substance scopolamine, which can act as a bronchodilator on horses and enhance performance, according to the Times.

Though undefeated entering the Santa Anita Derby, Justify still needed to run first or second in that race to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.  

While a positive test for the substance can trigger a disqualification, CHRB Executive Director Rick Baedeker told the Times scopolamine is also known to sometimes contaminate feed. Such “environmental contamination” is a defense that's often used in such cases. 

“We could end up in Superior Court one day,” Baedeker told the Times.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who conditioned Justify, told Horse Racing Nation he will issue a response to the story on Thursday. The Thoroughbred Daily News' Bill Finley fathered reaction from a California racing official:

There was no way that we could have come up with an investigative report prior to the Kentucky Derby,” Baedeker added. “That’s impossible. Well, that’s not impossible, that would have been careless and reckless for us to tell an investigator what usually takes you two months, you have to get done in five days, eight days. We weren’t going to do that.”

Drape reports in October, the CHRB lessened the penalty of a scopolamine positive from disqualification and redistribution of purse money to that of a fine and possible suspension. 

Read Drape's full New York Times report


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