The trainer behind the world’s best racehorse, Maximum Security, along with 26 others have been indicted in the largest crackdown on racehorse doping the Department of Justice has ever seen, Manhattan federal prosecutors announced Monday.
Jason Servis, who just led Maximum Security to a $10 million victory in last month’s Saudi Cup, allegedly used everything from customized painkillers to blood thickeners on “virtually all of the racehorses under his control” to make them “unnaturally fast,” prosecutors alleged.
“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,” US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said Monday. “And it was the racehorses that paid the price for the defendants’ unbridled greed.”
Prosecutors alleged the international scheme spanned racetracks in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and the United Arab Emirates and could have killed a number of horses.
“You know how many [expletive] horses he [Navarro] [expletive] killed and broke down that I made disappear? … You know how much trouble he could get in … if they found out … the six horses we killed?” Nicholas Surick, one of the indicted trainers, wrote in a text message about co-conspirator Jorge Navarro, another high-profile horse trainer.
One of Navarro’s award-winning steeds, X Y Jet, died of an apparent heart attack in January after receiving over 50 injections of performance-enhancing drugs, an indictment against Navarro alleges.
Berman said X Y Jet’s death is still under investigation.
The probe, started two years ago by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, turned up a total of nine trainers, nine suppliers and seven crooked veterinarians who used blood thickeners, painkillers and bronchodilators to dope the horses.
“These substances stimulated endurance, deadened nerves, increased oxygen intake and reduced inflammation,” William Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office, said at a press conference.
“What actually happened to these horses amounted to nothing less than abuse.”
Sweeney said the PEDs caused the horses to have “cardiac issues” and led to “overexertion,” which can cause leg fractures and death.
One of the indicted veterinarians, Dr. Louis Grasso, who’d previously been investigated for a racehorse doping scheme, allegedly distributed “cobra venom” to trainers as a painkiller and filled out prescriptions under the names of canine patients to keep investigators off his tail, according to court records and Paulick Report.
“I don’t give a f–k what it is,” Grasso allegedly told co-conspirator and fellow racehorse trainer Thomas Guido III when saying he charges “$100 per script,” according to an indictment against him.
Grasso then allegedly boasted to an undercover officer that he could get “a script for anything,” records show.
Investigators alleged Grasso submitted false prescriptions to over 10 pharmacies in at least seven states in 2019 alone and was caught counseling Guido after one of his horses died, the indictment states.
“It happens … [the trainer] probably over juiced him,” Grasso allegedly said. “I’ve seen that happen 20 times.”
A total of 26 out of the 27 defendants were arrested Monday while another defendant, Seth Fishman, was previously arrested in October. Servis got hit with a charge of misbranding conspiracy, which relates to mislabeling drugs.
They collectively face a total of 105 years in prison, prosecutors said.