Justify, Hoppertunity Case Will Be Heard Before Stewards

Bob Baffert and Justify | Sarah Andrew photo

The connections of Justify and Hoppertunity were unsuccessful in their attempt to obtain a temporary restraining order to stop the California Board of Stewards from holding a hearing regarding the disqualifications of those horses due to scopolamine positives in 2018, and the hearing will go forward as planned, according to a press release from Darrell Vienna, the attorney representing Mick Ruis.

Trainer Bob Baffert, and the owners and two jockeys who rode the undefeated 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify and the MGISW Hoppertunity, had filed a legal petition against the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) Oct. 13, alleging that the CHRB's recent decision to reopen hearings on two scopolamine positives from those horses in 2018 amounts to “arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful conduct” that purportedly targets Baffert and his clients unfairly while supposedly damaging the horses' reputations as stallions.

“The Honorable James C. Chalfant denied the ex parte application of the Justify and Hoppertunity interests clearing the way for a hearing before the Board of Stewards on the potential disqualification of both horses,” read the press release from Vienna. “The court found that there was no legal basis stated in the moving papers which warranted stopping the Stewards' hearing.”

Ruis is the owner and trainer of Bolt d'Oro, the runner-up in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby behind Justify. Ruis has sued the CHRB alleging that the initial dismissal of all seven cases of scopolamine positives led Ruis to suffer the loss of purse money when Justify was not disqualified and the purse was not redistributed.

Hoppertunity, also trained by Baffert, had a positive scopolamine test after the 2018 GIII Tokyo City Cup S at Santa Anita, two of seven such positives at the time that were dismissed as environmental contamination.

The petition, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, sought a judgment, injunction, and “peremptory writ of mandate commanding Respondent CHRB to dismiss the Complaints filed against Petitioners and cancel all hearings on the matter.”

“We are pleased that Judge Chalfant saw through this flimsy attempt to delay or avoid a long overdue and proper treatment of the positive tests involving these two horses,” said Vienna.


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