Justify failed drug test before winning Triple Crown

Justify failed drug test before winning 2018 Triple Crown

The New York Times reports 2018 Triple Crown victor Justify tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug scopolamine on April 8, 2018 following his win in the Santa Anita Derby.

Positive tests for scopolamine had led to other horses being disqualified from races; a DQ in the Santa Anita Derby would have prevented Justify from qualifying for the Kentucky Derby, the Times' Joe Drape reported.

Instead, the California Horse Racing Board notified Baffert that Justify had failed the doping test nine days before the Kentucky Derby and allowed the favorite to race anyway.

Four months after Justify became the 13th Triple Crown victor, the board threw out the drug test all together, citing that the test could have been the result of the horse eating jimson weed, which is known to contain high levels of scopolamine.

However, a bombshell report Wednesday by the New York Times casts doubt on the legitimacy of Justify's Triple Crown win.

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Drape's article said that a handful of racing officials, and people connected to the horse, knew about the failed drug test.

Justify won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes as a three-year-old before Coolmore bought his breeding rights for $US60 million after his retirement. The failed drug test would mean disqualification and the prize money and Kentucky Derby spot, according to the New York Times. Last October, after Justify had wrapped up the Triple Crown win, the Board lightened the punishment for horses caught for using scopolamine. " ... 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".

In the past, positive tests for scopolamine have resulted in disqualifications, purse reimbursements, fines and suspensions, according to the report.

"We take seriously the integrity of horse racing in California and are committed to implementing the highest standards of safety and accountability for all horses, jockeys and participants, " the board said in a statement to the Times and promised a further comment Thursday.

Earlier, Baedeker told the Times that regulators acted with caution because the drug is also found in jimson weed, which can grow near dung and become mixed with feed.

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