Justify failed drug test before winning 2018 Triple Crown

Jose Verdugo
Setiembre 13, 2019

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 a report from the New York Times on Wednesday, the thoroughbred colt failed a drug test before winning the 2018 Kentucky Derby - the first leg of his Triple Crown win. Justify tested positive for the banned substance scopolamine, which veterinarians say can enhance performance.

The news could have massive ramifications on the Australian breeding industry with Justify standing at Coolmore Australia after the breeding operation purchased the colt for $60m United States dollars.

Baffert requested a second sample be tested by an independent lab, and it confirmed the results on May 8 - three days after Justify won the Kentucky Derby.

"There was no way that we could have come up with an investigative report prior to the Kentucky Derby", Baedeker said, per the Times.

The board's executive director, Rick Baedeker, took the unprecedented path of presenting the case directly to the board's commissioners, who voted unanimously to drop the case, according to the Times.

Scopolamine can help clear a horse's airway and optimize its heart rate to make it more efficient, Sams told the Times. The board later changed the penalty for a scopolamine violation.

More news: Baffert -- Justify's positive test due to tainted food

An attorney who said he represents Baffert wrote a letter to the newspaper challenging its reporting.

The report Wednesday said that Justify shouldn't have been able to participate in any of last year's Triple Crown events.

The Times said Baffert didn't respond to multiple attempts seeking comment. Justify was undefeated at the time but still needed to finish in the top two to reach the May 5th running of the Kentucky Derby.

It was more than a month before the CHRB confirmed the test result, the Times said, and it was four months later - after Justify had won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes to become the 13th Triple Crown victor - that the board voted at a closed-door executive session to dismiss the case.

Instead, the board eventually buried the case, and in October lessened the punishment for horses caught for using the drug to a fine and possibly a suspension rather than a disqualification.

He said there would be a further response Thursday.

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