Triple Crown victor Justify failed drug test before 2018 Kentucky Derby

Justify ridden by Mike Smith crosses the finish line to win the 2018 Belmont Stakes and become the 13th horse to complete US racing's Triple Crown

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. Baffert did not comment for the Times and Justify, the 13th horse to complete the Triple Crown, no longer races.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the colt tested positive for the banned substance scopoloamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby in April of that year, a violation that should have ruled him out of the Kentucky Derby a month later.

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. Justify tested positive for scopolamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, 2018.

California regulators decided four months later behind closed doors to dispose of the inquiry altogether, citing "contaminated food" as the possible origin for Justify's positive drug test.

Previously, failed drug tests that uncover scopolamine in horse racing have resulted in disqualifications, prize forfeiture, fines, and suspensions. He also happens to train a horse that Chuck Winner, California Horse Racing Board's chairman, owns a share of.


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

After the split sample confirmed the finding, CHRB executive director Rick Baedeker reportedly informed commissioners of the positive and stated a complaint would be issued and a hearing would be scheduled. Doctors prescribe scopolamine to humans to treat stomach or intestinal problems, per Drape's report. A defense could be made that jimson weed got into a horse's feed and hay.

It said Justify had large amounts of scopolamine in his system, a banned drug that the National Center for Biotechnology Information says can affect performance in horses.

Drape's report also touched on hosemen's longstanding conflicts of interest, including board members having ownership stakes in horses and having working relationships with jockeys and trainers.

The New York Times report claims it has seen a number of documents and emails confirming their allegations.

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