Corridor of Fame coach Bob Baffert has denied giving Justify a banned substance, following Wednesday’s report that the Triple Crown-winning horse failed a drug take a look at a month earlier than the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
The New York Instances reported that Justify examined constructive for scopolamine after successful the Santa Anita Derby — and qualifying for the Kentucky Derby within the course of — on April 7, 2018. Scopolamine is a banned substance that may improve efficiency, in accordance with the Instances, and the failed take a look at ought to have led to Justify shedding his Kentucky Derby entry.
Baffert mentioned in an announcement Thursday that Justify might have ingested hint quantities of the drug by means of feed grown in California.
“I unequivocally reject any implication that Scopolamine was ever deliberately administered to Justify, or any of my horses,” Baffert mentioned. “Take a look at outcomes indicating hint quantities of the drug had been undoubtedly the results of environmental contamination attributable to the presence of Jimson Weed in feed, a naturally rising substance in areas the place hay and straw are produced in California. As well as, I had no enter into, or affect on, the choices made by the California Horse Racing Board.”
Baffert was referring to Instances reporting that the California board diverted from its regular plan of action following Justify’s failed take a look at. In accordance with the Instances, California regulators waited till April 26, 9 days earlier than the Kentucky Derby, to tell Baffert, who requested a second pattern be examined by an impartial lab. These outcomes had been confirmed on Might 8 — three days after Justify gained the Kentucky Derby.
Quite than submitting a grievance and holding a listening to, nothing occurred till Aug. 23, 4 months after the failed take a look at and two months after Justify had accomplished his Triple Crown run by successful the Belmont Stakes.
The board’s govt director, Rick Baedeker, took the unprecedented path of presenting the case on to the board’s commissioners, who voted unanimously to drop the case, in accordance with the Instances.
An legal professional who mentioned he represents Baffert wrote a letter to the newspaper difficult its reporting. Together with issuing related denials that Baffert gave, W. Craig Robertson III known as the article “sensationalism” and famous the minuscule ranges at which Justify examined constructive.
Baffert known as on the related testing companies in Kentucky, Maryland and New York — the states of the three Triple Crown races — to launch the horse’s take a look at outcomes.
On Thursday, Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery mentioned in an announcement that neither the racetrack nor the Kentucky Horse Racing Fee was conscious of any attainable constructive take a look at till Wednesday’s report. Flanery added that each one horses had clear drug exams earlier than that 12 months’s Kentucky Derby and that prime finishers handed testing after the race.
In Justify’s case, the California board reportedly determined that the take a look at outcomes might have come from contaminated meals. Nevertheless, the Kentucky Horse Racing Fee’s former drug lab chief, Rick Sams, advised the Instances that the quantity of scopolamine in Justify’s system advised it “has to come back from intentional intervention.”
As well as, the California board’s medical director mentioned of scopolamine in 2016 that the possibility of “getting a constructive from environmental contamination is reasonably low.”
Scopolamine may help clear a horse’s airway and optimize its coronary heart price to make it extra environment friendly, Sams advised the Instances.
Two months after dismissing the Justify case, the California board modified the penalty for a failed scopolamine take a look at from a disqualification to a wonderful and a attainable suspension.
“We take severely the integrity of horse racing in California and are dedicated to implementing the best requirements of security and accountability for all horses, jockeys and members,” the California Horse Racing Board mentioned in an announcement.
Baffert additionally praised Justify whereas defending each his and the horse’s reputations.
“Justify is the one of many best horses I’ve had the privilege of coaching and by any customary is without doubt one of the biggest of all time,” Baffert mentioned in his assertion. “I’m proud to face by his file, and my very own.”