Former Kentucky Derby favorite Forte, who was scratched just hours ahead of Saturday’s race at Churchill Downs, apparently failed a drug test in September.
While that wasn’t the reason for his scratch, it has yet to be adjudicated before New York regulators, The New York Times reported Tuesday night.
Per the report, Forte failed a drug test due to a substance used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. The test came shortly after the horse won the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Springs in New York in September. Forte kept competing, however, and won his next four races ahead of the Kentucky Derby.
The horse was the favorite to win at Churchill Downs, but was scratched just before the race due to a bruise in his right front hoof.
People in Forte’s camp tried to delay the proceedings again on Tuesday, per the report. New York racing officials are set to hear from Forte’s trainer, Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, on Wednesday.
“This matter likely would have been adjudicated months ago but for the repeated procedural delays sought by the trainer’s counsel,” a spokesperson for the New York State Gaming Commission said, per The New York Times.
The horse is owned by Mike Repole and Vincent Viola. Those two, along with Pletcher, did not return The New York Times’ requests for comment.
The report is just the latest incident surrounding this year’s iconic race in Louisville. There were seven horse deaths leading up to the race, including two on Saturday. Parents Pride and Chasing Artie died just days before the race, too, though investigators aren’t sure why. Churchill Downs suspended longtime trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., and other horses that were in contact with his two horses were scratched from all races as a precaution.
Mage, who went off at 15-1 odds to win, surged ahead past Two Phil’s and Angel of Empire to claim the Kentucky Derby title in 2:01.57.