Owner to sue California Horse Racing Board to disqualify Justify as winner of Santa Anita Derby


Owner to sue California Horse Racing Board to disqualify Justify as winner of Santa Anita Derby

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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A lawsuit is expected to be filed against the California Horse Racing Board later this week by owner Mick Ruis seeking the disqualification of US Triple Crown winner Justify from the 2018 Santa Anita Derby (G1) for a failed post-race drug test.

According to tweets from Eclipse Award-winning journalist Jeremy Balan of BetAmerica, the suit will allege the CHRB failed to follow its “statutory duty” when it did not seek penalties after Justify tested positive for scopolamine.

Under the rules in place at the time, a failed test for the substance would have required disqualification and the redistribution of purse money. Such an outcome would have resulted in runner-up Bolt d'Oro, who is owned by Ruis, being declared the winner.

The document, which Balan reported will be filed, goes on to read: “This lawsuit is about the CHRB cover-up which violated its mandatory statutory duty to follow the law and abrogated Ruis's constitutional and statutory rights,” the lawsuit states.

“CHRB's malfeasance was the proximate cause of the Ruis's damages including, without limitation, the loss of purse caused by the CHRB's failing to disqualify Justify and re-distribute the purse for the positive test result.”

Scopolamine is a substance found in jimsonweed, a plant known to sometimes contaminate feed.

The CHRB has contended there were other scopolamine positives registered around the time of Justify's and that further investigation confirmed they were a result of feed contamination.

The CHRB has since lowered the penalty for a scopolamine positive from the tougher 3b classification at the time of Justify's positive, which required a fine and disqualification, to a 4c that includes only a minimum fine of US$1,000 and no disqualification.

Attorneys for Ruis have contended that rule change did not officially occur until January 1, 2019, months after the test was ruled positive.

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