Federal Charges in Horse Race Doping Scheme


Posted: March 14, 2020

Updated: March 14, 2020

  • The trainer claimed the drugs were OK as there was no US test
  • Over 30 horse deaths at the Santa Anita raceway
  • Facing up to five years in jail

 If you follow US horse racing to any degree, then you’ll know that the industry has a massive horse race doping problem. The chickens finally came home to roost this last week. The US trainer, Jason Servis is one of over 27 individuals charged with a scheme to give illegal drugs to horses. He’s looking at up to five years in the slammer.

Introduction: Horse Race Doping Scheme

Everyone remembers the last Kentucky Derby in which the winner was Maximum Security. Hopefully you placed the right bet with Intertops. Now this horse had been a graded winner across any number of stakes races. But for this race was duly disqualified for interfering with other horses. The racing industry is already under a microscope, thanks to over three dozen horse deaths at the Santa Anita raceway last year. Essentially, the trainers are doping the poor beasts till they die.

Performance Enhancing Drugs

A grand jury is being put together by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. They are handing down four indictments which date back to over nine years of evidence. The assistant director of the FBI’s New York field office, Bill Sweeney gave a press conference. He said that horses were being given both mis-branded and medically unnecessary medications. He said, “As we allege, PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) were given to race horses. This was in an effort to increase their performance beyond their natural abilities. These substances stimulated endurance, deadened nerves, increased oxygen intake, and reduced inflammation. What actually happened to the horses amounts to nothing less than abuse.”

Fed Intercepted Calls from Servis

Last June Servis placed a call to a veterinarian called Kristian Rhein. This was during the period when Maximum Security was training for the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. The race horse received injections of the drug SGF-1000. This drug is to promote tissue repair and increase the horses stamina. Rhein confidently assured Servis that there was no need to be worries about testing….as no test for it existed in the US. Unfortunately for both of them the authorities were listening in on the call. In another call intercept a few months earlier, Servis chats with another trainer, Jorge Navarro, and claims that he was using the same drug with all the horses in his training stable. During this call Navarro admits to using PEDs, though didn’t want to discuss the issue over the phone.

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Navarro and Rhein also Face Horse Race Doping Charges

Navarro was doping all his horses to the point that six of them died around Feb 2019. He also drugged the champion winning horse, XY Jet prior to racing in Dubai. Apparently the horse received 50 oral injections leading up to the race and on the race day itself. In January the horse went on to win 12 of the 26 races she was running in. In doing so, her earnings were more than $3 million. And yet just a month later, she was dead. There is such is the pressure to win along with the huge money generated by gamblers. Many of them using these online sportsbook sites in the US. So it’s really no surprise these practices have been going on for so long. The real question is why it took so long to bring them out into the light.

Industry Stakeholders Denounce Horse Race Doping

Not surprisingly, the reaction from the horse racing industry, and in particular from animal welfare groups, was both swift and harsh. The Humane Society of the United States, the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity and the Jockey Club all called for the immediate passage of the Horse racing Integrity Act. This Federal bill would introduce the same drug and safety standards across the whole country. PETA put out a statement pointing out that this case was really just the tip of the iceberg. They would like the bill to include animal cruelty and asked for lifetime bans for those found guilty. As online sportsbook news in the US reported, “These crimes cheat bettors of billions of dollars. They are egregiously cruel to horses. And they result in rampant injuries, pain, and deaths, such as those cited in the indictment,” PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in a statement.

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