Justify Tested Positive For Scopolamine After Santa Anita Derby, CHRB Dismissed Case

Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018

Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018

Justify reportedly tested positive for scopolamine, a banned substance in horse racing, weeks before the Kentucky Derby, after the colt's victory at the Santa Anita Derby, according to documents obtained by Joe Drape of the New York Times.

The newspaper reported that Justify, trained by Bob Baffert, tested positive for scopolamine, banned as a potential performance-enhancer, after winning the Santa Anita Derby in California on April 7, 2018.

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.

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.

The last time NJ Advance Media published a story about Justify was in July of 2018, with the report that the Triple Crown victor would not run in the 2018 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

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.

In winning the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes in New York, Justify became the 13th horse to win the famed Triple Crown.

The colt was retired a year ago after he won all six annual races including the Preakness Stakes and 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. Four months after the positive drug test, the board "disposed of the inquiry altogether during a closed-door executive session". " ... 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".

"There was no way that we could have come up with an investigative report prior to the Kentucky Derby", said Rick Baedeker, director of the California Horse Racing Board.

The Times said Baffert didn't respond to multiple attempts seeking comment.

The CHRB later changed the penalty for a scopolamine violation to the lesser penalty of a fine and possible suspension.

He said there would be a further response Thursday.

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