On June 9, 2018, a colt named Justify thundered home to the full-throated cheers of a capacity crowd to win the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes and claim horse racing’s Triple Crown , one of the most storied achievements in sports.
Only a few people, however, knew the secret that Baffert carried with him into the winner’s circle that day: Justify had failed a drug test weeks before the first race in the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby.
Then, instead of filing a public complaint as it usually does, the board made a series of decisions behind closed doors as it moved to drop the case and lighten the penalty for any horse found to have the banned substance that Justify tested positive for in its system.
The lab sent notice on April 18, two and a half weeks before the Kentucky Derby, that Justify had tested positive for scopolamine, which is normally used to treat stomach or intestinal problems, such as nausea and muscle spasms, in humans.
In November 2016, Dr. Rick Arthur, the racing board’s equine medical director, warned horsemen to be alert to jimson weed in their feed and hay, saying that a positive test for the drug is “totally avoidable.”
Instead, on Aug. 23, 2018, more than four months after the failed test, Baedeker said he presented the Justify case directly to the commissioners of the California Horse Racing Board in a private executive session, a step he had never taken in his five-and-a-half-year tenure.
- Report: 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify failed drug test before Kentucky DerbyYahoo Sports
- Triple Crown winner Justify failed drug test before 2018 Kentucky DerbyCBSSports.com
- Report: Justify failed drug test before Triple CrownESPN
- Triple Crown winner Justify reportedly failed a drug test weeks before the Kentucky DerbyCourier Journal
- Triple Crown winner Justify failed drug test in 2018: reportNew York Daily News
- Justify failed drug test before winning 2018 Triple CrownNew York Post
- Report: Justify Failed a Drug Test Before Winning 2018 Triple CrownSports Illustrated
- Report: Justify failed drug test weeks before 2018 Kentucky DerbyWAVE 3
- 2018 Triple Crown Winner Justify Failed A Drug Test Weeks Before the Kentucky DerbyThe Big Lead