NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Times says Justify won the 2018 Triple Crown after a failed post race drug test at a California track that could have kept the horse out of the Kentucky Derby.
The newspaper reported Wednesday that Bob Baffert-trained Justify tested positive for the drug scopolamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby, one of the final prep races for the Kentucky Derby. Justify went on to win the Derby and took the Preakness and Belmont stakes to complete the Triple Crown.
The Times said instead of a speedy disqualification, the California Horse Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results. The newspaper also reported that instead of filing a public complaint, the board made decisions behind closed doors as it moved to drop the case and lighten the penalty for horses found to have scopolamine in their systems.
The newspaper said test results, emails and internal memorandums show how California regulators waited nearly three weeks, until the Kentucky Derby was only nine days away, to notify Baffert of the positive test. Then, two months after the Belmont victory, the board disposed of the inquiry altogether during a closed-door executive session.
The Times said Baffert didn't respond to multiple attempts seeking comment.
On Thursday, The Maryland Jockey Club released a statement saying:
“Justify, as with every horse who raced in the 2018 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD, was subjected to pre-race drug testing by the Maryland Racing Commission. Justify, as the winner of the 143rd Preakness, along with several other horses who competed, also received extensive post-race testing by that same body. The Maryland Jockey Club was informed that all of those tests came back negative for any illicit substance or for the overages of any prohibited medication.”