FILE - In this May 3, 2019, file photo, trainer Jason Servis is seen at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Servis is among more than two dozen officials charged in what authorities describe as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to race faster. Servis trains 3-year-old champion Maximum Security and is charged with giving performance enhancing drugs to that horse and others in his barn. The charges were detailed in four indictments unveiled Monday, March 9, 2020, in Manhattan federal court. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan, File)

Trainers, vets charged in international horse-drugging scheme

Trainer alleged to have given performance-enhancing drugs to horses entered in races 1,082 times

More than two dozen people, including the trainer of champion Maximum Security, have been charged in what authorities described Monday as a widespread international scheme to drug horses to make them race faster.

Trainer Jason Servis, whose stable includes the 3-year-old champion, was charged with administering performance-enhancing drugs to that horse and others. Maximum Security crossed the finish line first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference and has since won four of his five high-profile races.

The charges against trainers, veterinarians and others were detailed in four indictments unveiled Monday in Manhattan federal court. Charges brought against the 27 people include drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman scheduled a news conference in New York City to discuss the charges, which authorities said affected races in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and the United Arab Emirates.

ALSO READ: Workers escorted away in border services’ raid at Vancouver horse-racing track

Authorities said participants in the fraud misled government agencies, including federal and state regulators, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, various state horse racing regulators and the betting public.

In the indictment, Servis is charged with giving Maximum Security a performance-enhancing drug called SGF-1000, recommending it to another trainer, and conspiring with a veterinarian to make it look like a false positive for another substance. The other trainer, Jorge Navarro, is also among those charged.

Maximum Security on Feb. 29 won the world’s richest race, the $10 million Saudi Cup.

Servis is alleged to have given performance-enhancing drugs to “virtually all the racehorses under his control.” He entered horses in races approximately 1,082 times from 2018 through February 2020, according to authorities.

ALSO READ: Langley barn fire an ‘unprecedented loss’ for B.C.’s horse racing community

“The charges in this indictment result from a widespread, corrupt scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED (performance-enhancing drug) distributors and others to manufacture, distribute and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants’ control,” an indictment reads.

Prosecutors noted in indictments that professional horse racing is a $100 billion industry followed by millions of fans worldwide, leading racehorses to sell at auction for well over $1 million.

“A sad day for racing but a long time coming,” trainer Graham Motion tweeted. “A good day for those who try to play by the rules, we will all be better for it.”

According to the indictments, marketers and distributors of drugs known as “blood builders” to stimulate a horse’s endurance have infiltrated the horse racing industry for at least the last decade.

Authorities say the drugs can cause horses to overexert themselves, leading to heart issues or death. According to the indictments, other drugs used to deaden a horse’s sensitivity to pain to improve the horse’s performance could also lead to leg fractures.

___

Associated Press writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.

Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

horse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Non-profits that are helping people impacted by COVID-19 can apply for relief funding

Red Deer and District FCSS can draw from a provincial pot of $30 million

No Alberta renter will be evicted for non-payment on April 1, promises the premier

No evictions during the entire Alberta public health emergency

Opening Red Deer’s safe consumption site would reduce strain on system during COVID-19, says advocate

Alberta should give also give addicts clean drugs, added Deborah Watson

UPDATED: How the coronavirus is impacting the Ponoka area

Precautions, advisories, and cancelled community events

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

Vaccine not expected until January 2021 for COVID-19, video posted on Alberta premier’s Facebook page shows

Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw discuss vaccines

COVID-19: Third Albertan dies, 46 cases in central zone

Province total as of Sunday: 661 cases

‘Worse than any flu’: Canadians describe how it feels to have COVID-19

“I woke up with a little scratch in my throat and started trying to cough it up”

Feds rolling out help for charities hit hard by COVID-19 economic slowdown

Most Canadians are entering the third week of a COVID-19 slowdown

Red Deer: Put a bear in your window so kids can count them

Red Deer woman wants kids to go on ‘bear hunt’

Most Read