Justify Reportedly Failed Drug Test Before Winning Triple Crown

FILE – In this April 7, 2018, file photo, Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, gallops past Bolt d’Oro, left, with jockey Javier Castellano, during the Santa Anita Derby horse race at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. Justify won the race, and Bolt d’Oro came in second. The New York Times says Justify won the 2018 Triple Crown after a failed postrace drug test at Santa Anita that could have kept the horse out of the Kentucky Derby. The newspaper reported Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, that Bob Baffert-trained Justify tested positive for the drug scopolamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby. Justify went on to win the Derby and took the Preakness and Belmont stakes to complete the Triple Crown. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Champion racehorse Justify failed a drug test shortly before winning the American Triple Crown in 2018, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

In an article posted on its website, the newspaper said Justify, who was under the stewardship of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, tested positive to the banned substance scopolamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

Scopolamine, also known as hyoscine, is banned in horse racing because it can improve horses’ breathing and heart-rate.

The report said the failed drug test would normally have meant Justify’s disqualification and forfeiture of entry into the Kentucky Derby.

Instead, the California Horse Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results and moved to drop the case while lightening the penalty for any horse found to test positive to the same substance, the report said.

Justify won the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown on May 5, before adding the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to become the 13th horse to complete the treble.

The Times quoted California Horse Racing Board executive Rick Baedeker as saying that it would have been “careless and reckless” for regulators to have rushed to complete an investigative report before the Kentucky Derby.

Baedeker did not immediately respond to a phone call and email request for comment by Reuters.

Efforts to contact Baffert were also unsuccessful.

SOURCE: Reuters