27 Trainers, Vets and Pros Charged in Scheme to Drug Horses to Race Faster

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2020

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 04:  The field heads down the backstretch during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 04, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Charges have been brought against 27 professional horse trainers, veterinarians and others in what is being described as a major international drug scheme designed to make race horses run faster.

According to ESPN, a total of four indictments include charges like drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy. Among those charged is Jason Servis, the trainer of Maximum Security, who was disqualified from the Kentucky Derby for interference.

Servis is alleged to have used performance-enhancing drugs on "virtually all the racehorses under his control," per ESPN. 

Races affected by the scandal reportedly took place in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and the United Arab Emirates. The indictments described the PEDs as "blood builders" that improve endurance and have been in the sport for a decade. The drugs can lead to heart issues and even death. 

According to Horse Racing Nation, Servis is alleged to have used the substance SGF-1000 on Maximum Security, and investigators say he had a veterinarian falsify records to prevent a positive test on the horse on or around June 5. 

Maximum Security was among the favourites to win the Kentucky Derby last year and crossed the finish line first after setting the pace. The result was overturned shortly after the race, however, with the win going to Country House due to interference:

The horse also won a slew of other races, including the Florida Derby, Haskell Invitational, Bold Ruler Handicap and Cigar Mile. In February, he raced to the $10 million top prize at the first Saudi Cup, the richest race in the world.

According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Servis' horses saw a significant boost in their results starting in 2017:

Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds

Jason Servis, 2014-2016: 22.6% winners, $8,528 per start Jason Servis, 2017-2019: 30.1% winners, $16,810 per start (That's not all a Maximum Security bump, either.)

Per Horse Racing Nation, Jorge Navarro was also named among those charged. He has worked with horses like Dubai Golden Shaheen winner X Y Jet, who suddenly died in January of what the trainer described as a heart attack.


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