Article in New York Times states Justify failed a drug test before the Derby

Post Reply
User avatar
Treve
Posts: 4496
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 5:12 pm

Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:05 pm

Tessablue wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:16 pm
Treve wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:36 am
I know you have worked with a backside vet before, but do you have understanding of pharmacology in the way TB does (who if I'm not mistaken, makes her living in the field?) Because if you would you would realise the amounts found in this case are not anywhere near trace amounts, let alone amounts that could come from cross contamination.
For clarity, because I've made a lot of big statements in here, I'm a cell/molecular biologist. Pharmacology is pretty far out of my comfort zone, and I would welcome the input of any veterinarians on here who have additional perspectives on the matter. But the review discussed above is very clear and well-written, and the last author of the review is a very big name in the field of racehorse drug testing and development. So although this isn't an area I have personal research experience in, biology is a shared language, and that review does make it appear that Justify's situation is deeply unusual. There's not a lot of research out there, but what research we have does indicate that a horse needs to eat an unprecedented amount of tainted hay to test at those levels- an amount that would warrant an immediate widespread warning to all horsemen on the grounds.

I also think that regardless of what actually happened to Justify, Arthur's comments are terribly alarming. It's almost unfathomable that a licensed veterinarian would say something like "well the blood didn't show much so maybe the urine test was wrong." I can't overemphasize how shocking that is, especially when you already have a guideline on the drug itself written by somebody Arthur is definitely familiar with. Moreover, the fact that he repeated Baffert's lawyer's talking points almost word-for-word should be deeply troubling to anyone observing this situation.
Thanks for the clarification, for some reason I had this mental image of you in biology but I kept having the notion of lab research so I guess my brain decided to meld that into pharma lol.

I have a question - if I am understanding correctly the amount is given by volume (ng/ml), which basically is concentration levels correct?
If that's the case... I'd like to point out one of Justify's most notable features is his size and weight. Which means the unprecedented amount you cite for any ol' horse to test at those levels, could presumably be even higher for a horse of his particular size and weight to test at those levels.

ETA: I too appreciate your articles so far. I've not looked at all of them in depth yet but since my work week is drawing to a close, possibly tonight.
A filly named Ruffian...

Eine Stute namens Danedream...

Une pouliche se nommant Trêve...

Kincsem nevű kanca...


And a Queen named Beholder
MySaladDays
Posts: 1003
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:16 am

Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:44 pm

Tessablue wrote:
Thu Sep 12, 2019 2:57 pm

In other words: if, as was reported, the concentration was 300ng/mL
Why would Dr. Arthur describe such a high concentration as a "trace amount"


Also assuming that you have permissions to read the study becuase all I can get is the abstract since I have no membership so a lot of the info you spoke of did not show up for me
Tessablue
Posts: 3829
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:29 am
Location: Boston

Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:53 pm

Thank you MSD and Treve! Honestly, I'm just crossing my fingers that none of it is misleading. I fully admit to a deep distrust of Baffert and Arthur going back to the seven dead horses report, and I'm hoping that someone with more direct equine pharmacology experience can chime in here. To that end, I'm afraid I can't answer your question, Treve- it is a concentration, but I'm not at all familiar with how horse size influences urinary drug concentration. Timing is certainly important, and I suppose it's possible that he ate a lot of tainted hay at precisely the wrong time, although I'm not familiar with raceday feeding practices. I would dearly like to find out how much atropine they detected in him and the other horses.

I do want to emphasize that the inclusion of atropine and other (much lower) detections of scopolamine around the same time in other horses does increase the probability that environmental contamination was involved. But I think the lack of further information coupled with what appear to be blatant falsehoods in the statements of both Arthur and Baffert's lawyer make it difficult to lean towards the generous interpretation, and it's the handling of the matter that should truly alarm us. I also think it's just a terrible idea to announce that if you test positive for two substances at the same time, it'll be thrown out regardless of the levels involved. Meanwhile, Eric Guillot on twitter is still openly wondering if he can use the related substance Buscopan and just blame it on the hay...
User avatar
Treve
Posts: 4496
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 5:12 pm

Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:21 pm

Yes more than whether it was intentional or not, and who is responsible or who isn't, it's the whole handling of the situation that has the sirens screaming in my head. And I love Eric Guillot's ballsy question, I am assuming there have only be crickets in response?
A filly named Ruffian...

Eine Stute namens Danedream...

Une pouliche se nommant Trêve...

Kincsem nevű kanca...


And a Queen named Beholder
djnorth
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:52 am

Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:27 pm

Stupid question. Have any of the other trainers and/ or horses with scopolamine positives at the same time as Justify been identified? It may have been obvious in the articles but I can't recall seeing it.

Especially if the levels were comparable, how were these cases handled?

Thanks so much.
luvsgeldings
Posts: 957
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:18 pm
Location: SoCal

Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:24 pm

djnorth.... I am glad you asked that question - I have been wondering about the same thing - I have not seen any other horses or trainers named - yet anyway.
User avatar
Treve
Posts: 4496
Joined: Fri May 08, 2015 5:12 pm

Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:46 pm

I don't think they've been named thus far.
Another thing that came to mind is I wonder if all the prospective stud farms that wanted his breeding rights were made aware of this prior to acquiring him...
A filly named Ruffian...

Eine Stute namens Danedream...

Une pouliche se nommant Trêve...

Kincsem nevű kanca...


And a Queen named Beholder
MySaladDays
Posts: 1003
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:16 am

Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:48 pm

As expected, Joe Drape is being dragged across the coals on many racing forums.......because there isn't anyone *inside racing* who is doing any kind of true investigative reporting, so anyone outside the good ol' boys club is going to be loudly discredited.

That's the way it works, I guess?
User avatar
Charlie
Posts: 615
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:34 pm

Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:50 pm

I find it funny that Baffert and Co. think "accidental contamination" is even a good excuse. You train horses worth more than houses and your feeding regiment is so poor that they get accidental contaminations at such incredibly high amounts? As an owner that would make me question his ability to care for my very expensive horse; but of course, no one will because it's Baffert

(*I feel like he has used this excuse before, did he for the 7 dead horses? )
User avatar
Starine
Posts: 4625
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:17 pm

I don't have anything to contribute thus far, I just wanted to thank everyone for their posts. From those like Tessablue who are more knowledgeable on the subject to those who are less knowledgeable who have asked very good questions.

I'm really eager to see how this develops -- what else will be revealed... there's a lot here that can't be easily explained away... And in the end, I hope it results for changes for the sport for the better.
User avatar
CoronadosQuest
Posts: 1616
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:44 pm

Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:59 am

I just want to know who the other trainers were that were also positive at that time. Why didn't Joe Drape list them in his article? I also wish we could hear from others who were positive in the past, like Mandella, to know their thoughts on the subject.
MySaladDays
Posts: 1003
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:16 am

Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:35 am

Starine wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:17 pm
I'm really eager to see how this develops -- what else will be revealed... there's a lot here that can't be easily explained away... And in the end, I hope it results for changes for the sport for the better.
My opinion: It *won't* develop.

Most of the people writing about this are either trying to protect their interests and/or are not scientist or experts in the field of testing, or independent attorneys, etc.

Instead of being seen as a vehicle of change, i.e. a chance to bring more transparency and thus save our sport, most commentary is biased and has a lot more to do with people loving/hating the NYTimes, Baffert, Stronach, California, CHRB, and any number of other trainers/places/publications, etc. I've even seen it reepresented as a democrat/republican/liberals/conservatives spin.

Until something happens, like a lawsuit, where evidence can be brought and experts testify, absolutely nothing will happen.

One of the questions has been did the whistleblower do this to save racing, or further hurt it? My feeling is they did it to save racing. Unfortunately, instead of being a come-to-jesus moment where genuine and real improvements can be shaped and implemented, racing will just do it's usual "nothing to see here" and continue to issue press releases with misleading stuff in them.
stark
Posts: 5104
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:55 am
Location: SoCal

Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:14 am

From the archives, some interesting olde reading for a Saturday morn....

Jun 19, 2001
https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing ... st-pattern

Jul 17, 2009
https://www.drf.com/blogs/caine-mutiny

Nov 18, 2016
http://www.pricehorsecentral.com/?p=16589
Last edited by stark on Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
stark
Posts: 5104
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:55 am
Location: SoCal

Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:19 am

From today's LATimes newsletter by John Cherwa.....

More on Justify
Guess what? There is still more to talk about in regards to the Justify situation. Maybe not more, but going over stuff we’ve already talked about.
Let’s start with what the classification of scopolamine was at the time. The CHRB website said it was a 3b. However, according to then chairman Chuck Winner, it was actually a 4c. He said the website hadn’t been updated.
He said that all ARCI rules, which helps set the standards for horse and dog racing, are immediately the rules in California unless the board votes to have a different rule in place. The ARCI rule was in place and California was in the slow process of getting it in the rule book. But, Winner says, it was in effect. It’s kind of like backing into a rule, but certainly it is plausible.
It is unclear, however, how that opinion would hold up in the face of litigation. Might be spot on. But, you wonder if the same CHRB counsel who thought it was not a conflict of interest in the earlier mentioned Auerbach-Ritvo partnership is the same attorney who came up with this interpretation.
Now, the ARCI did put out a news release that said a 4c violation does require a disqualification. But it allows for mitigating circumstances. Certainly, contaminated feed would be one of those factors.

OK, hopefully that is cleared up. Now the next point.
None of you can seriously believe that Justify could have been kept out of the Kentucky Derby, do you?
Regardless of the merits of the positive, realize there has to be an investigation and that process can not be done in a month. How about at least six months. And you couldn’t keep Justify out of the Derby based solely on, at that point, an accusation. Plus, the Derby points system is not regulated by the state of Kentucky, it’s local option. The Derby folks could let him in with zero points. Of course, I’m guessing the connections with horse No. 21 are finding a good attorney.
Staying with the investigation for a moment, I looked at the last two 4c violations. (Only two because the CHRB website has become almost worthless since it can’t bring archival stuff into compliance in its current form.) Cliff Sise had one with Hot Decision. The race was held March 29 and the adjudication took place Aug. 14. Richard Baltas had Unicorn test positive on Feb. 16 and a ruling was issued on Aug. 7. In both cases the horse wasn’t disqualified and the trainer was fined $500.
So, the idea that Justify would have to miss the Kentucky Derby just doesn’t work. Now, Justify could have gone on to run in and win both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes if for some crazy reason he wasn’t allowed into the Derby.
Think about what would have happened if he had been excluded from the first race of the Triple Crown and later it was determined to be feed contamination. Do you want to be writing the damages check on that? I don’t.
This is all stuff to think about. You come up with your own opinions, but please consider all the facts.
I've found it easier to tear up tickets at 8/1 instead of 8/5.
Catalina
Posts: 3634
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:08 pm
Location: South Texas

Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:36 am

djnorth wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:27 pm
Stupid question. Have any of the other trainers and/ or horses with scopolamine positives at the same time as Justify been identified? It may have been obvious in the articles but I can't recall seeing it.

Especially if the levels were comparable, how were these cases handled?

Thanks so much.
And, were they all Baffert horses? Not sure how obtaining hay and straw is handled at a track. Presumably the high rollers would have their own trusted suppliers, and the less top drawer horses could get "standard" quality through the track?
Catalina
Posts: 3634
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:08 pm
Location: South Texas

Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:46 am

stark wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:19 am
From today's LATimes newsletter by John Cherwa.....

Staying with the investigation for a moment, I looked at the last two 4c violations. (Only two because the CHRB website has become almost worthless since it can’t bring archival stuff into compliance in its current form.) Cliff Sise had one with Hot Decision. The race was held March 29 and the adjudication took place Aug. 14. Richard Baltas had Unicorn test positive on Feb. 16 and a ruling was issued on Aug. 7. In both cases the horse wasn’t disqualified and the trainer was fined $500.
And what exactly were the results (same test procedure as that which produced Justify's results of 300 nanograms) for Sise's and Baltas' horses?
MySaladDays
Posts: 1003
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:16 am

Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:54 am

Tessa when you come back I'd like to know if the NCBI/NIH study is the same one the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities used.

They put a residue limit in place of 60 nanograms per milliliter in urine to try to account for such contamination. CHRB revised their rules last fall and now has a limit of 75 and penalties of Class 4 but before that it was 60 and Class 3.

I need to know where IFHA came about their residue limits I guess.
luvsgeldings
Posts: 957
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:18 pm
Location: SoCal

Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:44 pm

I read that info that John Cherwa put out this morning too - he said those were the two most recent - the CHRB recently said there were 6 other horses besides Justify who tested positive for that stuff - but they did not name the horses/trainers - Jay Privman in his local SoCal radio show this morning said he has not heard who the other 6 horses were - he did mention hollendorfer had a positive for it about 12 years ago - and that horse was DQ'd and the trainer fined - before that, Privman mentioned some positives back in 1999 - Cherwa did not mention the year of those two most recent positives - was it this year? last year?

but I have a bad feeling, unless Ruis files some sort of lawsuit, we won't hear any more about this regarding the baffert horse. (by the way, on the Privman show this morning Matt Hegarty of DRF said the CHRB was on lockdown this morning - and it may have something to do with the possible pending action by Ruis.)

as another local SoCal TB radio guy mentioned this morning, the CHRB did nothing to baffert when the 7 horses dropped dead a few years ago. so its no surprise they leave him alone on this new matter. but its amazing that in the baffert case, the CHRB is fine with assuming the positive test was from contamination. so no fines or anything levied against him. I guess they didn't assume the same when they fined Baltas and Sise.
Somnambulist
Posts: 7730
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:59 pm

Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:24 pm

Catalina wrote:
Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:36 am
djnorth wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:27 pm
Stupid question. Have any of the other trainers and/ or horses with scopolamine positives at the same time as Justify been identified? It may have been obvious in the articles but I can't recall seeing it.

Especially if the levels were comparable, how were these cases handled?

Thanks so much.
And, were they all Baffert horses? Not sure how obtaining hay and straw is handled at a track. Presumably the high rollers would have their own trusted suppliers, and the less top drawer horses could get "standard" quality through the track?
I think we all have professional experiences were shit just happens. We're human and make errors and people do it at all levels.

The positive isn't what bothers me, the hiding of it does.
"Life's no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe's my own to fool with."
luvsgeldings
Posts: 957
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:18 pm
Location: SoCal

Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:29 pm

I hear what you are saying, Som - I have read or heard the same sentiment from a lot of different places.

I think for me, because of the hiding of it, the positive bothers me even more.

I realize mistakes happen.

but since they hid this info and did a lot of behind closed doors stuff in this situation, it seems more nefarious to me.

although in truth, I can be a huge cynic - especially where baffert is concerned.
Post Reply