Failed drug test cover up rocks USA horse racing

Justify #1 ridden by jockey Mike Smith crosses the finish line to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park

Citing internal memos and emails, the Times's Joe Drape reported that, instead of filing a complaint and holding a hearing, the racing board did nothing until August 23, two months after Justify's Belmont Stakes victory in the last leg of the Triple Crown.

There are now doubts about the legitimacy of Justify's Triple Crown triumph in 2018.

Justify failed a drug test one month before the 2018 Kentucky Derby, and the California Horse Racing Board made a decision to dismiss the case after the colt went on to win the Triple Crown, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

However, the Times said California regulators waited until April 26, nine days before the Kentucky Derby, to inform Bob Baffert, Justify's Hall of Fame trainer.

"There was no way that we could have come up with an investigation report prior to the Kentucky Derby", Baedeker said, according to Drape, acknowledging that the case may end up in the Superior Court. California horsemen, however, moved slowly in investigating the test; that delay, in turn, allowed Justify to race in, and win, the Ketucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes and become the 13th Triple Crown victor in thoroughbred racing history.

However, the New York Times has reported Justify had returned a positive swab for scopolamine, a performance enhancing drug that is banned on raceday, after his win in the Santa Anita Derby. Baedeker presented the case to the commissioners, who decided that the test result could have come from consuming contaminated food and voted unanimously to drop the case.

Baffert, who did not respond to the Times' requests for comment, is expected to address reporters on Thursday.

The CHRB in October 2018 followed through on earlier plans to reduce the penalties for scopolamine from disqualification and purse forfeiture to a fine and possible suspensions, Drape reported. Scopolamine can be found in jimson weed, which can sometimes get mixed in with feed and enter a horse's system.

Scopolamine can help clear a horse's airway and optimize its heart rate to make it more efficient, Sams told the Times. Members of the board, including chairman Chuck Winner, reportedly own an interest in horses trained by Baffert.

The Times also reports that they didn't find any evidence of tampering or involvement by Justify's owners in any document they reviewed.

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