New York: The trainer of a horse that finished first in last year’s Kentucky Derby before being disqualified was charged with participating in an international racehorse-doping ring.
Jason Servis, who trained the would-be Derby winner Maximum Security, was one of 27 people indicted Monday by federal prosecutors in New York. The group included trainers, veterinarians and distributors who all profited from the “callous sale and administration” of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs for horses.
Maximum Security crossed the finish line first at Churchill Downs last May but was disqualified for impeding the path of other horses. Maximum Security also won the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup, late last month.
The indictments come amid increased scrutiny of the $100 billion global horse-racing industry, including calls for racing to be halted after dozens of horses died this winter at Santa Anita Park in California, one of the nation’s premier thoroughbred tracks.
“Over the past two years, the public has watched with growing concern the reports of death and injury in the business of professional horse racing,” Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a press conference announcing the charges. “These defendants engaged in this conduct not for the love of the sport, and certainly not out of concern for the horses, but for money ... And it was the racehorses that paid the price for the defendants’ unbridled greed.”
Berman said the trainers were motivated to cheat because they shared in earnings from their horses’ victories, and winning records also allowed them to boost their fees.
According to prosecutors, Servis doped nearly every horse in his care, including Maximum Security. He used falsified veterinary bills, fake prescriptions and a network of tipsters who let him know when officials were searching for signs of illegal doping.