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

Smithers single family home sales up in first quarter of 2020

Real Estate board predicts decline in second quarter due to COVID-19

Coastal GasLink gives $100K to United Way efforts in Northern B.C.

Organization’s COVID-19 Relief Fund benefits seniors in isolation, among others

UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

Doctor says it was a visitor, Northern Health won’t confirm

Bus services taking extra measures because of COVID-19

More cleaning and more disinfecting underway

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C. First Nations Health Authority launches virtual doctor program

Program to provide primary health care through COVID-19 pandemic

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

Statistics Canada report looks at COVID-19’s impact on violence in the family

Police across Canada reported almost 100,000 cases of intimate partner violence in 2018

132,000 B.C. jobs lost just the start of COVID-19 impact, finance minister says

Finance Minister Carole James says ‘this isn’t the entire picture’

B.C. asking companies to contribute through online COVID-19 supply hub

New platform to co-ordinate, source, expedite supplies and equipment to support front-line workers

Controls can keep Canadian COVID-19 deaths under 22,000, health agency says

With poor containment measures, the death toll could be much, much higher, the agency says

Most Read