Last Wednesday the New York Times reported that the 2018 Triple Crown Winner JUSTIFY had tested positive for the banned drug Scopolamine after Winning the Santa Anita Derby in California, less than a month before the start of the Triple Crown series.
Scopolamine, which is also known as Hyoscine, is banned because it can improve horses’ breathing and heart-rate.
The horse’s Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert denied intentionally administering the banned substance to JUSTIFY in 2018, saying the positive test had been a result of environmental contamination.
Baffert took to Twitter, where he wrote: “I unequivocally reject any implications that Scopolamine was ever administered to JUSTIFY or any of my horses. Test results indicating trace amounts of the drug were undoubtedly the result of environmental contamination caused by the presence of Jimson Weed in the feed- a naturally growing substance in areas where hay and straw are produced in California.”
The New York Times said that normally a failed drug test would have meant JUSTIFY being disqualified in the Santa Anita Derby and forfeiture of entry into the Kentucky Derby.
Instead, (according to the report) the California Horse Racing Board (C.H.R.B.) took more than a month to confirm results and moved to drop the case, while lessening the penalty for any horse found to test positive to the same substance.
Baffert went on to tweet: “In addition, I had no input into, or influence on, the decisions made by the C.H.R.B.”
During a press conference Baffert said JUSTIFY had passed drug tests at each of the Triple Crown races that the horse had Won– the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes in Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes in New York.
While each of those states have independent horse racing governing bodies, all three did confirm that JUSTIFY did pass the drug tests at their 2018 Triple Crown races.
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