According to the Times, Justify, trained by Bob Baffert, should have been disqualified from the Kentucky Derby after testing positive for high amounts of the drug scopolamine, a performance-enhancing drug, on April 7, 2018.
Instead, the California Horse Racing Board notified Baffert that Justify had failed the doping test nine days before the Kentucky Derby and allowed the favorite to race anyway. On June 9, 2018, Justify won the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes and claimed horse racing's Triple Crown.
California regulators decided four months later behind closed doors to dispose of the inquiry altogether, citing "contaminated food" as the possible origin for Justify's positive drug test.
Rick Baedeker, the executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, said the case was delicate because of its timing and claimed that regulators moved slowly because scopolamine could be found in jimson weed, which could be mixed with horse feed.
"There was no way that we could have come up with an investigative report prior to the Kentucky Derby,” Baedeker said, per the Times. "That’s impossible. Well, that’s not impossible, that would have been careless and reckless for us to tell an investigator what usually takes you two months, you have to get done in five days, eight days. We weren’t going to do that."
Baffert did not respond to the Times's inquiries for comment.
Justify is only the 13th horse in history to complete the Triple Crown.