Trainer Bob Baffert and Justify. Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images.

Bob Baffert, Justify and the Chemical Triple Crown

by VIVIAN FARRELL

Everyone who knows us knows we are no fans of Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert. He is a cheater, a liar and a doper.

I had written a dear colleague a day or so ago stating it is my opinion that when all is said and done, Baffert’s Triple Crown Winner, Justify, would go down in history with an asterisk by his name, marking that the horse had won during the Chemical Age, and his victory would count for little. The next day she wrote back saying, did you see this . . . . ?

“This” turned out to be Joe Drape’s The New York Times article, “Justify Failed a Drug Test Before Winning the Triple Crown”.

In it Drape states:

“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.

“It was the perfect ending to an improbable journey for a talented horse, his eclectic ownership group, and his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert.

“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. That meant Justify should not have run in the Derby, if the sport’s rules were followed.”

“. . . . if the sport’s rules were followed.” But they don’t follow the rules, do they? And in the case of Justify’s doping prior to the Derby, documents reviewed by The New York Times show they did not enforce the rules in the case of Baffert and his horse.

Drape continues:

“Instead of the failed drug test causing a speedy disqualification, the California Horse Racing Board took more than a month to confirm the results. 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.

“By then, Justify had become just the 13th Triple Crown winner in the last 100 years, and his owners had sold his breeding rights for $60 million.

“Only a handful of racing officials and people connected to Justify knew about the failed drug test, which occurred April 7, 2018, after Justify won the Santa Anita Derby. He tested positive for the drug scopolamine, a banned substance that veterinarians say can enhance performance, especially in the amount that was found in the horse.

“Justify was undefeated at the time, but he still needed to finish first or second in the Santa Anita Derby to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, on May 5. While the colt won at Santa Anita, the failed drug test would mean disqualification and forfeiture of both the prize money and the entry into the Kentucky Derby that came with the victory.”

“None of that happened, though.

“Test results, emails and internal memorandums in the Justify case show how California regulators waited nearly three weeks, until the Kentucky Derby was only nine days away, to notify Baffert that his Derby favorite had failed a doping test.”

The rest of the article talks about the actions the California Horse Racing Board took, or perhaps I should say didn’t take. Interestingly, “The chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, Chuck Winner, owns an interest in horses trained by Baffert. Two other board members employ trainers and jockeys they regulate.” It is an incestuous business.

Insofar as the drug itself, “Scopolamine cases have resulted in disqualifications, purse reimbursements, fines and suspensions over the decades.” Not it seems, however, if it is used by Bob Baffert.

Justify was “retired” almost immediately following the Triple Crown and shipped off to stud. What about Justify’s Triple Crown? Bring on the asterisk.

In the meantime. . . .

Horse racing is gambled on. Horse doping is race fixing. How this so called “sport” is still running is criminal in every sense of the word in my view and should be banned from being gambled on, which would sink the industry. More on that in another post.

SOURCE

Justify Failed a Drug Test Before Winning the Triple Crown”, by Joe Drape, The New York Times, 11 Sept 2019.

RELATED READING

Deadly to Horses: The Baffert Effect Part 1, by Jane Allin »
Deadly to Horses: The Baffert Effect Part 2, by Jane Allin »
Baffert horses big part of sudden death spike, by The Bloodhorse »
Horse Racing in America: A Spectacle of Liars, Dopers and Cheaters – Part 1, by Jane Allin »
Horse Racing in America: A Spectacle of Liars, Dopers and Cheaters – Part 2, by Jane Allin »

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Trainer Bob Baffert and Justify. Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images.

14 thoughts on “Bob Baffert, Justify and the Chemical Triple Crown”

    1. “He tested positive for the drug scopolamine, a banned substance that veterinarians say can enhance performance, especially in the amount that was found in the horse.”

      “Dr. Rick Sams, who ran the drug lab for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission from 2011 to 2018, said scopolamine can act as a bronchodilator to clear a horse’s airway and optimize a horse’s heart rate, making the horse more efficient. He said the amount of scopolamine found in Justify — 300 nanograms per milliliter — was excessive, and suggested the drug was intended to enhance performance.”

      There is more than one opinion, many of which do not agree with the Bloodhorse article.

      Like

      1. Did you read the article I posted? It’s more definitive than the one the author posted as reference.

        It explains the CA standards for test contamination, the difference between Justify’s blood and urine levels, as well as the fact that five other horses racing that weekend tested positive with the same results. (Horses not trained by Baffert.) There is also the presence of a second toxin, Atropine, in the blood when contamination occurs. And it did in all six cases that weekend.

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        1. Yes I have read it and am very familiar with the tests and standards. It’s the amount. Other articles have also stated that the level found would not be conducive to it having been in the feed. And no, the other horses did not test positive with the “same” results.

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        2. One other horse tested over the threshold, although they don’t mention the exact level. And five other horses tested the same way: positive for both scopolamine and atropine, indicative of contamination rather than medicating. Also, his blood levels were significantly lower than his urine levels.

          Were Justify the only horse to race and test positive in any way, I would find it suspect. But when a handful of runners not connected to one another but run at the same location on the same weekened, also show the same symptoms, I think that’s more than coincidence. And but for the fact that it was this horse and this trainer, would anyone be talking about it now? I don’t hear mention of any of the other horses. I don’t even know the names of the other horses.

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        3. Look, I’m not going to argue anymore. I’ve read enough that tells me this is conveniently a cover up, yet again, for Baffert. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. The End.

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        4. Well, at least now I understand. We were arguing different points entirely. I was making a case for this one instance, and you were addressing Baffert doping his horses all the time. Yeah, I can’t logically dispute bias. Thanks for explaining that.

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  1. Let’s be real here and post both sides of the matter… Sheesh, blowing it all out of proportion to justify your attack of the horse racing industry. Jimson Weed produces this scopolamine and is common in hay/straw throughout San Diego and California. Let’s see the Drug Test levels as they were reportedly very low… https://www.rocketminer.com/sports/baffert-justify-s-positive-test-came-from-contaminated-food/article_4bb6e5d6-7ad6-5449-80cb-c44f947221ec.html

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    1. Justify tested over 4 times the legal limit for scopolamine. Not one other Baffert horse on the exact same feed and bedding in the Baffert barn at the time tested positive for scopalomine! None! Baffert is a career pathological cheat and doper. He has well over a dozen doping violations to his name and not a single meaningful penalty incurred. The CHRB is as corrupt a governing body as can be found in any sport on the planet. This is the exact same CHRB, who discovered years ago that doper Baffert had 100% of his barn’s horses on a thyroid accelerant during the same time his barn had 8 unexplained deaths of those same stabled horses. Neither Baffert nor his dipping vet were able to produce a single blood test showing that a single horse in the barn had a hypothyroid condition warranting a thyroid accelerant medication treatment. Yet the corrupt CHRB amazing states that since Baffert’s Vet had issued medication slips for all the horses administered the thyroid accelerant Baffert had therefore done thing wrong! What a fucking joke of a ruling. In truth, both Baffert and his drug filing vet should have both been immediately kicked out of the sport for life at that moment. But then again, you can’t punish too big to fail cheating trainers like Doping Bobby Baffert!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, we’ve seen that nonsense. Remember the one about the horse that tested positive for morphine and Baffy claimed the horse accidentally ingested some poppy seeds off some bagels? His lawyer went into court with that story. You probably believed it too. He is a shyster of the highest kind. His day of reckoning will come. It always does. But there have been worse; trainers that have killed more horses.

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  2. I do not disbelieve the allegations, but I do not agree with your conclusion that horse racing should be banned. There are some trainers who do not give their horses illegal drugs. Instead of throwing out the whole sport, let’s focus on ways to clean it up. I am all for that. I don’t trust Baffert either, and I’ve adopted a new standard for which horses I bet. If I know or believe that a trainer is a “doper,” I will not bet his horses. That is just my statement, not that it will help, but it would help if all horseplayers would do the same. I realize that they WON’T, but again, let’s fix it, instead of abandonning it. Racing in Europe is much cleaner. Drugs are all but banned, and in the UAE, they are banned. Strict penalties for abusers are what we need in the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is not a single trainer who does not dope their horses. Baffert is however in a category of his own (with some others) — the elite dopers.

      You want to save a “sport” that abuses and kills horses on a regular basis . . . to give you something to gamble on?

      We’ve been covering this for 15 years. But don’t listen to us. Go see https://horseracingwrongs.org/. And he is not some looney, animal rights whacko. He is fact based. Does he want to see it all end?

      Like

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