Justify failed drug test before Triple Crown win

Report: 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify failed drug test before running in Kentucky Derby

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Justify failed a drug test one month before the 2018 Kentucky Derby, and the California Horse Racing Board made a decision to dismiss the case after the colt went on to win the Triple Crown, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Justify became only the second Triple Crown victor since the 1970s when the colt won the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes in 2018.

According to the report, California regulators waited almost three weeks to notify Justify's trainer Bob Baffert of the positive test result, nine days before the May 5 running of the Kentucky Derby.

Justify tested positive for the banned substance scopolamine, which veterinarians say can enhance performance. Baffert asked that another sample from his horse's April exam be tested and sent to an approved independent lab, but the findings of that exam came in after Justify had already won the first leg of the Triple Crown. That test confirmed the presence of the drug, though it was not returned until after the Kentucky Derby.

The documents reviewed by the Times showed no evidence of tampering by Justify's owners.

Instead of disqualification, the CHRB took more than one month to review the results, affording time for Justify to become the first Triple Crown victor since American Pharoah and 13th in the sport's history.

The California Horse Racing Board's executive director Rick Baedeker "acknowledged that it was a delicate case because of its timing" since the Derby was just weeks away. The board then opted to reduce any penalties levied for the particular banned substance Justify was found to have had injected.

"There was no way that we could have come up with an investigative report prior to the Kentucky Derby", he said. "We weren't going to do that".

In the past, positive tests for scopolamine have resulted in disqualifications, purse reimbursements, fines and suspensions, according to the report. Will he have to give back his cut of the $60 million in breeding rights that his now-tainted Triple Crown earned?

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