27 horse trainers, veterinarians charged in international horse-doping ring

Horse racing action
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And they’re off…..to a courtroom. Twenty-seven individuals — including the trainer of last year’s disqualified Kentucky Derby winner — have been charged for their alleged roles in giving performance-enhancing drugs to horses as well as other cheating tactics in an international racing scheme, prosecutors announced Monday.

A full addendum of defendants and their charges are available here. The defendants, which include horse trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, face a number of charges surrounding conspiracies to manufacture, distribute, and administer adulterated or misbranded drugs to horses.

“Today’s unsealing of four indictments for widespread doping of racehorses is the largest ever of its kind from the Department of Justice.  These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “And it was the racehorses that paid the price for the defendants’ greed.  The care and respect due to the animals competing, as well as the integrity of racing, are matters of deep concern to the people of this District and to this Office.”

According to court documents, the indictments came following an investigation of widespread schemes by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, performance-enhancing drug (PED) distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses competing at all levels of professional horseracing. The defendants allegedly did this in an effort to win horse races throughout the United States and other countries, including in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, and the United Arab Emirates, without worrying about the risks to the horses.

The trainers who allegedly participated in the schemes stood to profit from the success of racehorses under their control by earning a share of their horses’ winnings, and by improving their horses’ racing records, thereby yielding higher trainer fees and increasing the number of racehorses under their control. Veterinarians and drug distributors allegedly profited from the sale and administration of these medically unnecessary substances.

In the Navarro case, Navarro allegedly trained and doped XY Jet, a thoroughbred horse that won the 2019 Golden Shaheen race in Dubai. Navarro allegedly administered the drugs himself and directed other veterinarians to do so. He was allegedly intercepted on the phone discussing his alleged doping activities.

Navarro’s preferred drug allegedly was various “blood building” drugs, which, when administered before intense physical exertion, can lead to cardiac issues or death. XY Jet passed away in January of an apparent heart attack — his death is being investigated.

Navarro was allegedly assisted by multiple defendants in the indictment, including Jason Servis, who allegedly helped Navarro obtain adulterated and misbranded drugs to dope racehorses. Servis allegedly doped every horse under his control, including Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference.

Among the misbranded and adulterated PEDs that were allegedly used by Servis was the drug “SGF-1000,” which may cause racehorses to perform beyond their natural abilities, thereby increasing the risk of injuries. Servis allegedly worked with veterinarians to cover up the alleged doping through the use of falsified veterinary bills and fake prescriptions. Servis would also allegedly alert Navarro when racing officials were present searching for signs of illegal doping.

Charges state that Navarro allegedly expressed his relief regarding Servis’ “tip”: “[The track official] would’ve caught our asses f***ing pumping and pumping and fuming every f***ing horse [that] runs today.”