Top trainers at Gulfstream charged by feds in a widespread horse-doping scandal

Charles Rabin, Miami Herald on

Published in Horse Racing

MIAMI -- Two of Gulfstream's leading trainers, including the handler of 2019 Florida Derby winner Maximum Security, were charged Monday in a sweeping federal investigation into the illegal doping of thoroughbreds.

Among those indicted: Jorge Navarro, whose local ties go back to Calder Race Course and who was the leading trainer during last year's championship meet at Gulfstream Park, and Jason Servis, who directed Maximum Security to victory at Gulfstream last year in Florida's biggest race, the Florida Derby.

Twenty-five others also were indicted in a wide-ranging federal investigation into the administering of Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEDS, to horses at racetracks around the country.

The indictments, handed down Monday by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, allege that trainers, veterinarians and drug manufacturers worked in concert to create and distribute to race horses synthetic PEDs that avoided detection during testing after victories.

The arrests came during raids at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach and Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach on Monday. Both facilities, and Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, are owned by the Stronach Group, which hasn't been connected to any of the alleged wrongdoing.

The company issued a statement Monday, saying it complied fully with the search warrants carried out by federal authorities.


The news hit hard in a sport already reeling from other forms of competitive gambling and a rash of breakdowns -- or horse deaths -- last year, primarily at Santa Anita.

"There is no room in our sport for anyone who does not prioritize the health and well-being of horses and riders," the Stronach Group said in a statement. "As this matter is under federal investigation we will not be commenting further at this time."

Navarro was the leading trainer during last year's championship meet at Gulfstream, meaning his horses won the most races. Servis, whose wins included Maximum Security's Florida Derby victory, finished third. Horses trained by Servis won 45% of their Gulfstream starts last championship season, a staggering clip where 20% is considered a fine year.

Maximum Security also initially won last year's Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified afterward for interference. Federal investigators say Navarro administered illegal PEDs to a top-ranked sprinter named XY Jet before wins in Florida and the world's largest prized race in Dubai.


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