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Justify failed drug test before winning Triple Crown, according to report

13 September 2019

Justify, the last horse to win a Triple Crown, failed a drug test weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

It is reported that the Bob Baffert-owned Justify tested positive to scopolamine, a banned substance claimed to enhance performance.

In winning the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes in New York, Justify became the 13th horse to win the famed Triple Crown. Baedeker presented the case to the commissioners, who decided that the test result could have come from consuming contaminated food and voted unanimously to drop the case.

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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. "That's impossible. Well, that's not impossible, 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. We weren't going to do that", Drape quoted Baedeker as saying.

Baffert did not respond to the Times's inquiries for comment.

The 2018 campaign was an historic one for Justify, who became the 13th Triple Crown victor, and the second in four years, following American Pharoah's tremendous run in 2015.

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Two months after dismissing the Justify case, the California board changed the penalty for a failed scopolamine test from a disqualification to a fine and a possible suspension.

California trainers have known for some time that Scopolamine is a banned substance, Drape reported.

Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018, told The Times that the drug can be used to clear a horse's airway and improve its heart rate. Dr. Rick Sams, former laboratory director for LGC Science Inc., told the Times scopolamine can act as a bronchodilator and that the amount detected in Justify "was excessive".

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His report noted that Justify's ownership group included "power brokers" in horse racing, in particular WinStar Farm and China Horse Group, but that the documents the Times reviewed showed no evidence the group pressured or interefered with California regulators.

Justify failed drug test before winning Triple Crown, according to report