Think all this talk about positive test cover-ups is Clinic conspiracy theories?
In 2018, Justify became the 13th horse to win thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that the colt failed a drug test prior to the Kentucky Derby and shouldn’t have been eligible to race to begin with.
The Times reports that the horse tested positive for scopolamine, a banned performance-enhancer, after winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, 2018.
According to the report, California regulators waited nearly three weeks to notify Justify’s trainer Bob Baffert of the positive test result, nine days before the May 5 running of the Kentucky Derby.
The timeline means that Baffert entered his horse knowing about the positive test. Few others at the time were aware, according to the report.
Instead of immediately disqualifying the Kentucky Derby favorite, the California Horse Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results and withheld from publicly disclosing the results when it did, according to the report.
The board eventually decided to drop the case and moved to lessen the penalty for testing positive for scopolamine by the time Justify had won the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to complete the Triple Crown, according to the report.
The Times reports that two months after Justify completed the Triple Crown, the board concluded that the positive test could have resulted from Justify eating contaminated food and dropped the inquiry before changing the penalty of a positive scopolamine test to a fine and possible suspension in October.
California Horse Racing Board director Rick Baedeker told the Times that it moved slowly on the case due to the nature of the positive test.
The Times spoke with Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018. He said that the amount found in Justify’s system — 300 milligrams — via documents obtained by the Times indicated that its administration was intentional.
The California Horse Racing Board investigated Baffert in 2013 when seven of his horses unexpectedly died at Inglewood’s Hollywood Park over the course of 16 months.
Baffert was found to have administered thyroid hormone thyroxine to the horses despite there being no evidence of hypothyroidism that the hormone is intended to treat.
Baffert was exonerated after the board determined that the administration of the drug did not violate any rules.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was reportedly aware of Justify's positive drug test before his horse ran the 2018 Kentucky Derby.