CHRB To Hold Hearing On 2018 Justify Scopolamine Positive As Part Of Settlement With Bolt d'Oro Owner - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

CHRB To Hold Hearing On 2018 Justify Scopolamine Positive As Part Of Settlement With Bolt d’Oro Owner

Justify winning the 2018 Santa Anita Derby

The following press release was distributed to media Friday by Darrel Vienna, counsel for owner Mick Ruis:

Mick Ruis announced today that he has reached an agreement in principle with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) regarding a settlement of pending litigation in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The preliminary agreement is intended to resolve claims against the CHRB for failure to hold a purse disqualification hearing related to the 2018 Santa Anita Derby in which the first place finisher, Justify, tested positive for the prohibited substance scopolamine. Members of the CHRB, the state agency charged with regulation of California horse racing, voted in favor of settlement at a recent closed session. Attorneys for the respective parties are finalizing the exact terms of the agreement and expect it to be completed in the coming days.

The agreement would include a provision that the CHRB will file a complaint against the owners of Justify and conduct a purse disqualification hearing. The detection of the prohibited substance scopolamine in the official test collected from Justify following the running of the 2018 Santa Anita Derby was confirmed by a split sample test requested by Justify's connections. CHRB rule 1859.5 requires forfeiture of purse and disqualification of a horse that tests positive for a Class 1 – 3 prohibited substance regardless of the trainer's responsibility.

“I am pleased that the leadership of this newly constituted CHRB appointed by Governor Newsom has taken seriously the Governor's intention to 'hold the group accountable on matters of drugs, safety, and integrity.' It is only fair that the current CHRB voted to finally have a hearing related to the Justify matter. This settlement would be a major step toward restoring public confidence in the CHRB,” said Mick Ruis, the owner of Bolt d'Oro, who finished second in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby.

The prior CHRB departed from its standard procedures when it refused to file a complaint following the split sample confirmation of scopolamine in Justify's official sample. The prior CHRB swept the Justify matter under the rug by dismissing the matter in a closed session in August of 2018 where it remained until Joe Drape uncovered the scandal in an article published in the New York Times in September of 2019.

“This legal action was never just about the purse money, I wanted to stand up for what's right and to make sure that every horseman, from the little guy to Bob Baffert, is treated fairly and equally” Ruis said. “I commend the current CHRB for reviewing this matter and look forward concluding negotiations regarding a public hearing.”

Ruis is represented by attorneys Darrell Vienna and Carlo Fisco.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Mr. Ruis. He is an individual who truly believes and has proven that one man can make a difference,” said Vienna. “We look forward to presenting the agreement with the CHRB to the court so we can resolve the litigation.”

Carlo Fisco added “This decision was a no-brainer for the CHRB,” added Fisco. “It's very encouraging for racing in California to see this new board being able to make the obvious and positive move, a task that the old board found to be, for some unknown reason, too daunting.”

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