27 Indicted in Horse Racing Doping Scandal

  • Trainers, veterinarians, and others doped horses for at least two years
  • Jason Servis, trainer of Maximum Security, among highest-profile names
  • PEDs used to take horses past physical limitations; can injure or kill horses
  • Maximum Security won 2019 Kentucky Derby before being DQed for interference
jockeys riding horses in a race
Jason Servis, the trainer of Maximum Security, was one of 27 people charged for involvement in a racehorse PED scheme. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Jason Servis trained one of 2019’s best horses

On Monday, U.S. authorities unwrapped indictments in Manhattan federal court, charging 27 people with drugging thoroughbred horses to improve their performances on the racetrack.

Among those charged were veterinarians and horse trainers, including trainer Jason Servis. Servis trains Maximum Security, one of the most successful horses of 2019.

Trainer Graham Motion tweeted that, though it was a sad day for racing, it was: “A good day for those who try to play by the rules, we will all be better for it.”

PEDs used to push horses past their limits

Servis specifically is alleged to have given Maximum Security a performance-enhancing drug (PED) called SGF-1000. According to BloodHorse.com, SGF-1000 is used to accelerate tissue repair and “increase a horse’s stamina and endurance beyond its natural capability.”

The indictment states that in order to get the PEDs to Servis’s stables without anyone knowing, vet bills and prescriptions were faked. Veterinarian Kristian Rhein assisted him in obtaining and adulterating drugs. Another vet, Alexander Chan, is accused of both adulterating and falsely labeling PEDs and administering them without a valid medical reason at the direction of Servis. Michael Kegley Jr, a sales rep, was also involved in adulterating and misbranding PEDs for Servis.

Federal officials allege that Servis gave these tainted and misbranded PEDs to all of his horses. For just over the past two years, Servis entered horses in nearly 1,100 races.

Doping leads to irreversible harm

Not only is the use of PEDs cheating, but it is also extremely harmful to the horses. While on drugs, the animals can exert themselves past a reasonable threshold to the point of developing heart problems or even dying. Some drugs make the horses less sensitive to pain, which can result in catastrophic injuries when the horses don’t stop because they can’t feel something is wrong.

William F. Sweeney Jr, assistant director at the FBI New York Office, said at a press conference:

What actually happened to the horses amounted to nothing less than abuse.”

He added: “They experienced cardiac issues, overexertion leading to leg fractures, increased risk of injury, and, in some cases, death. Conversely, the human being involved in the scheme continued to line their purses as they manipulated this multibillion-dollar horse racing industry across the globe.”

Maximum Security won almost all of his races in 2019

Maximum Security is best known for finishing ahead of the pack at the 2019 Kentucky Derby, but then getting disqualified for interfering with another horse. The three-year-old colt had a very successful 2019, running eight races with six first-place finishes and one second-place finish. The horse won $1,791,100 last year, good for ninth on the 2019 North American money list.

Maximum Security’s purse for the victory was $10 million

He is one-for-one this year, winning the $20 million Saudi Cup, the richest horse race in the world. Maximum Security’s purse for the victory was $10 million.

Servis ranked eighth on the North American money list last year with $11,089,040 in race earnings. His 29% win rate was best among the top 60 money winners.

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