Report: Justify failed tests for scopolamine

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

According to ESPN, Triple Crown winner Justify failed a drug test before the horse won all three events in 2018. The New York Times broke the story on Wednesday.

The California Horse Racing Board reportedly did not do anything, as the case was dismissed. The Times is reporting that the horse tested positive for scopolamine.

Justify, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park
Justify, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, wins the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes (Getty Images)

The horse tested positive for this drug before even the Triple Crown started. It happened after the horse won the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, 2018.

Scopolamine, according to the paper, is a performance-enhancing drug.

This banned substance should have caused a disqualification for Justify. In addition, it should have also caused the horse to be removed from the Kentucky Derby entry, according to the Times.

California officials told Bob Baffert, the Hall of Fame trainer, the horse failed a drug test nine days before the Kentucky Derby. He then requested a second test through an independent lab, which also confirmed a failed drug test on May 8.

This was a few days after the horse won the prestigious Kentucky Derby.

California officials did not go anything, according to the paper, until Aug. 23 — four months after the failed tests — when the board’s commissioners voted to drop the case. This was also two months after Justify became a Triple Crown winner.

The board reportedly claimed that the failed tests came from contaminated food. However, Rick Sams, former drug chief lab, told the paper the amount of scopolamine in the horse’s body “[suggested it] has to come from [an] intentional intervention.”

Plus, according to ESPN, the California board’s medical director said that the chance of a positive test of scopolamine in 2016 “getting a positive from environmental contamination is rather low.”

This drug reportedly helps clear the horse’s airway and makes its heart rate more efficient, according to Sams, who told the Times.

The board then changed its decision in Oct. 2018 when they changed it from a failed scopolamine test to a fine. The horse was also facing a possible suspension.

“We take seriously the integrity of horse racing in California and are committed to implementing the highest standards of safety and accountability for all horses, jockeys and participants,” the California Horse Racing Board said in a statement.

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