Positive Test on Justify is Due to Tainted Food

Written By Cheryle Kaus on September 19, 2019 - Last Updated on October 24, 2019

Bob Baffert, the Hall of Fame trainer, recently denied giving Justify, the Triple Crown-winning horse from 2018, a banned substance that created a positive test before the Kentucky Derby last year and stated that contaminated food was to blame for the result.

Baffert stated last week that he completely rejects the implication that he gave Justify scopolamine, a drug which Justify tested positive for after he managed to win the Santa Anita Derby during April 2018.

Reporters stated that Justify tested positive for scopolamine and that the Horse Racing Board in California didn’t sufficiently investigate the matter. Therefore, Justify was allowed to race and win the Belmont Stakes, Preakness, and Kentucky Derby to successfully become the thirteenth Triple Crown winner in horse racing history.

“It’s a shame that myself, this great horse, and our connections have to go through this,” Baffert stated in a text message. “This was obviously environmental contamination which has been a known problem when it comes to the state of California.”

The medical director of the Horse Racing Board in California, Rick Arthur, informed the Associated Press that the substance amount in the blood of Justify was minuscule and that the case should not be prosecute based on his findings.

Scopolamine, also referred to as hyoscine, is essentially used to cure human motion sickness and has the ability to relieve intestinal spasms in horses but can be toxic for them at the same time. Scopolamine, recently downgraded from Class 3 to Class 4, is present in jimson weed that grows wild throughout the state of California.

“I reject any and all implications that scopolamine was intentionally given to Justify,” Baffert remarked in a statement.

“Test results that indicate trace amounts of the scopolamine drug is undoubtedly due to environmental contamination that is caused by jimson weed that can be found in feed, a natural growing weed in several areas across California. Furthermore, I had to influence or input into the decisions made by the Horse Racing Board of California.”

Rich Arthur stated that seven horses from four completely different trainers during the Santa Anita Derby were found with some levels of atropine or scopolamine in their systems at the same time when Justify was tested positive for the drug. It is for this very reason that Arthur recommends that the case against Justify be dismissed.

After Baffert requested that racing officials in New York, Maryland, and Kentucky release the test results for Justify, all of them stated that the test results with negative.

“Neither the Kentucky Racing Commission not Churchill Downs had any knowledge of potential positive tests that might have originated from California before the 2018 Kentucky Derby,” Kevin Flanery, president of the Churchill Downs Racetrack, stated.

“We are aware that all pre and post testing results for the Kentucky Derby in 2018 came back clean and that includes the test results for Justify.”

The Maryland Jockey Club stated that is was made aware that all tests that came back were negative for any illegal substances when it came to Justify and other horses that participated in the Preakness 2018. The director of communications at the New York Gaming Commission, Brad Maione, informed the AP that all of Justify’s urine and blood samples tested by the Research and Drug Testing laboratory came back clear at the Belmont Stakes.

Justify did not participate in another race following the Triple Crown victory as he retired shortly thereafter. Baffert only trained the two winners of the Triple Crown in the last 30 years, including American Pharaoh during 2015 and Justify during 2018.

“Justify is certainly one of the greatest horses that I’ve had the privilege of working with and possible one of the finest of all time,” Baffert stated. “I am extremely proud to stand by my own record and his.”

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