LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert on Thursday denied giving Justify a banned medication.
"I unequivocally reject any implication that scopolamine was ever intentionally administered to Justify, or any of my horses," Baffert said in a statement. "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. I am proud to stand by his record, and my own."
Baffert blamed environmental contamination for a positive finding for the chemical, which is found in Jimson weed. He also said he had no "input into, or influence on, the decisions made by the California Horse Racing Board."
An attorney representing Baffert also said Thursday that a New York Times article reporting 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify failed a postrace drug test prior to the Kentucky Derby is "extremely disappointing" and "long on sensationalism."
The newspaper reported Wednesday that Justify, trained by Baffert, tested positive for the drug scopolamine after winning the Santa Anita Derby, which could have kept him out of the Kentucky Derby.
Justify went on to win the Kentucky Derby on his way to claiming the Triple Crown. Baffert also won a Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah.
W. Craig Robertson III said in his statement Thursday Baffert "conducts himself with honesty, class and character" and he and horse racing deserve better.
"There was never any intentional administration of scopolamine to Justify and any insinuation in your article otherwise is not only defamatory, but it also defies logic and common sense," Robertson stated. "No trainer would ever intentionally administer scopolamine to a horse. It has a depressant effect and would do anything but enhance the performance of a horse."
Scopolamine can be used to clear a horse's airway and improve its heart rate, the New York Times reported in its article.
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