Top horse failed drug test before Triple Crown triumph

Justify failed drug test before Triple Crown win

Justify won the Santa Anita Derby a month before his Kentucky Derby triumph but the newspaper alleged the California Horse Racing Board waited a week to advise trainer Bob Baffert that the horse had failed the drug test.

Justify, shown at the Santa Anita Derby in April 2018, reportedly failed a drug test after winning that race at the Santa Anita track.

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.

However, the New York Times alleges the CHRB did not follow its usual process of "filing a public complaint" on the matter and "made a series of decisions behind closed doors" to drop the case. As a result, he shouldn't have been eligible to run in that year's Kentucky Derby. Rather than filing a complaint and holding a hearing, nothing happened until August 23, four months after the failed test and two months after Justify had completed his Triple Crown run by winning the Belmont Stakes. However, the failed drug test should have meant automatic disqualification of both the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derby, as well as forfeiture of any prize money. " ... 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".

However, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's former drug lab chief, Rick Sams, told the Times that the amount of scopolamine in Justify's system suggested it "has to come from intentional intervention". "We weren't going to do that".

No follow-up was ever done, Drape reported, and the investigation ended abruptly in August 2018 when CHRB commissioners, after listening to Baedeker lay out the evidence in a private session, voted not to open a case against Baffert, who did not respond to requests by the Times for comment.

Justify's incredible Triple Crown triumph a year ago may be tainted.

Baedeker told Drape that scopolamine also occurs naturally in jimson weed, which springs up where dung is present.

That October, the California Horse Racing Board lessened the penalty for horses who test positive for scopolamine.

The documents do not indicate any tampering from Justify's owners.

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