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

COVID-19: Staying home in Salmon Arm is difficult when you don’t have one

As the snow flies, people without homes talk about how tough life is

General exposure to public low after inmate tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The Okanagan Correctional Centre inmate is receiving appropriate care

Presence of auxiliary volunteers missed at Salmon Arm hospital during pandemic

Shuswap Lake Health Care Auxiliary still chips in two iPads so patients can connect with families

Column: Helping one another through these challenging times

Director’s Notes by CSRD Area C director Paul Demenok

Okanagan real estate market stable; bracing for slowdown due to COVID-19

Real estate board projects slowdown as the economic impacts of the pandemic continue to develop

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

KGH Foundation establishes COVID-19 response fund to support frontline workers

Doctors, nurses and staff have been challenged to pivot operations to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Food support continues for Okanagan students despite school closures

Kids aren’t going hungry thanks to Kal Rotary and Starfish Backpack program

Emergency services respond to numerous incidents on Highway 1

Today there were multiple semi truck crashes on Highway 1 and a collision by the hospital

Large item collection events cancelled in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

Concerns about spread of COVID-19 led to decision to cancel collection events

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Most Read