Baffert attorney calls report on Justify's positive drug test 'sensationalism'

Paola Ditto
Settembre 13, 2019

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, according to a report in the New York Times.

Baffert said Justify passed drug tests in Kentucky, Maryland and NY on the way to the Triple Crown and called on those states' testing agencies to "immediately release information related to Justify's test results" there.

"I unequivocally reject any implication that Scopolamine was ever intentionally administered to Justify, or any of my horses", Baffert said in a statement.

"It was a conclusion certainly of the executive staff that that was the appropriate and correct way to handle the case, " said Arthur, who is equine medical director at the veterinary school at the University of California at Davis and is assigned to but not paid by the California Horse Racing Board.

Justify was allowed to run in the Kentucky Derby a month later and went on to become horse racing's 13th Triple Crown victor.

This should have been more than enough for officials to disqualify Justify from further competition, and surely warranted banning the young horse from participating in the upcoming Kentucky Derby. Justify did not run another race before being retired. Baffert trained the only two Triple Crown winners in the past three decades: Justify in 2018 and American Pharoah in 2015.

"Your article is long on sensationalism, short on facts, and does a great disservice to Mr. Baffert, JUSTIFY, and the entire horse industry", he proclaims. "I am proud to stand by his record, and my own", Baffert said. It says the regulators didn't tell Baffert about the positive test until nine days before the Derby and also claims they moved to lighten the penalty for using that substance. He also insists Baffert was insulated from communications with the California Horse Racing Board after an initial notification of a possible test failure, and that the decision to drop the case was the board's alone. The Times reported the chairman of the California board owns an interest in horses trained by Baffert.

"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 emailed to the AP.

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