US RACING: Trainer Bob Baffert speaks on Justify’s positive test

Trainer Bob Baffert
Trainer Bob Baffert

A day after the New York Times reported Justify tested positive for a banned substance prior to making his 2018 Triple Crown run, trainer Bob Baffert issued a statement saying he rejects the notion that scopolamine "was ever intentionally administered" to Justify or other horses in his barn.

The Times' Joe Drape revealed that Justify failed his post-race test for a key prep, the Santa Anita Derby (G1), which qualified him to run in the Kentucky Derby, and through his reporting indicated that the California Horse Racing Board did not adjudicate the case by the book.

Echoing an earlier statement made by his attorney, Baffert cited environmental contamination as the source of the positive. Jimson weed occurs naturally in California, is known to mix in horses' feed and has been the subject of other drug positives in the state.

"In addition, I had no input to, or influence on, the decisions made by the California Horse Racing Board," Baffert said in his statement.

"Following the Santa Anita Derby, Justify raced in three different jurisdictions during his Triple Crown run -- Kentucky, Maryland and New York. He passed all drug tests in those jurisdictions."

Baffert thus called upon those three states' racing agencies to "immediately release information related to Justify's test results."

Kentucky and Churchill Downs were first up, confirming Justify passed pre- and post-race tests for the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said that “until media reports surfaced Wednesday night, neither Churchill Downs nor the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission had knowledge of any potential positive tests that may have emanated from California in advance of the 2018 Kentucky Derby."

The Maryland Jockey Club, which stages the Preakness Stakes, released a statement later Thursday also confirming Justify passed pre- and post-race inspections for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Justify was retired following the Belmont Stakes with a 6-for-6 record and now stands at stud at Coolmore, where he joined Baffert's other recent champion, American Pharoah.

"Justify is one of the finest horses I've had the privilege of training, and by any standard is one of the greatest of all time," Baffert's statement concluded. "I am proud to stand by his record and my own."


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