Triple Crown winner Justify failed drug test weeks before Kentucky Derby: report
© Getty Images

Justify, the horse that won the Triple Crown in 2018, reportedly failed a drug test a month before the Kentucky Derby, according to The New York Times.

In the weeks before his first race in the Triple Crown — a prestigious title awarded to a horse that wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes — Justify failed a drug test in April after the Santa Ana Derby, prohibiting him from participating in the Derby as per the rules, The Times reports.

Justify was found with 300 nanograms per milliliter of scopolamine, a substance that officials deemed was intended to enhance performance based on the amount in the colt’s system, The Times reports.

But Justify’s owner, Bob Baffert and a handful of others kept the test results a secret in a rule-breaking incident that took more than a month to be confirmed by the California Horse Racing Board, according to The Times.


After the board confirmed the results, it reportedly didn’t take normal protocol — filing a public complaint — and instead moved to drop the case and lower the penalties for horses who were proven to have the same banned substance in their systems as Justify did.

Justify had already won the Triple Crown at that point, becoming the 13th winner in the past 100 years, according to The Times.

Even in the months that followed, the board, behind closed doors, unanimously voted to drop the case, ruling Justify’s testing positive could have been because he ate contaminated food. It changed the punishment for the violation to a fine and possible suspension, The Times reports.

The report comes as the horse racing industry has faced increased criticism over the death of 30 racehorses since December 2018, The Times notes. The Los Angeles district attorney is investigating the deaths, and state officials have examined ways to improve regulations and conditions of the sport.