To that end, the Jockey Club and others in the industry have supported the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, a federal bill that would give the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which revealed Armstrong’s cheating and issued a lifetime suspension in 2012, the authority to create a regulatory plan with meaningful penalties to clean up the sport. It has been approved by the House of Representatives and has bipartisan support in the Senate, where it is expected to come to a vote within the next few weeks.
The ultimate goal of the legislation is to establish uniform national regulations and independent oversight in a sport that is fractiously governed and notorious for conflicts of interests.
Last year, The New York Times reported that Justify — also trained by Baffert — had failed a drug test after winning the 2018 Santa Anita Derby in Southern California. The rule at the time required that Justify be disqualified, forfeiting both his prize money and preventing his entry into the Kentucky Derby a month later.
The California Horse Racing Board’s chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, had previously employed Baffert to train his horses. Justify’s failed test was investigated for four months, allowing the horse to keep competing long enough to win not only the Derby, but also the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes to become the 13th Triple Crown winner.
In August 2018, after Justify’s breeding rights had been sold for $60 million, the racing board ruled that the failed test was the result of environmental contamination and disposed of the inquiry altogether during a rare closed-door session.
Last week, as part of settlement of a lawsuit brought against the racing board by the owner of the second-place finisher, Bolt d’Oro, California regulators heard testimony that will help them decide whether to erase Justify’s Santa Anita Derby win and force his owners to forfeit the $600,000 first-place check.
“What makes this case remarkable is how a cabal within the C.H.R.B. sought to ensure the secrecy of the positive test by treating Bob differently from other trainers,” said Carlo Fisco, a lawyer for Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro’s trainer. “No trainer, no matter how successful, should be treated differently.”