Jason Servis Expected To Plead Guilty On Friday - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Jason Servis Expected To Plead Guilty On Friday

Trainer Jason Servis

Trainer Jason Servis is scheduled to go before federal Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil in New York City on Friday morning at 11 a.m. ET, when he is expected to change his plea from not guilty to guilty in connection with the FBI probe into illegal horse doping that led to more than two dozen arrests of trainers, veterinarians, and drug manufacturers and suppliers in March 2020.

Servis, 65, had been scheduled to go on trial Jan. 9, 2023, at U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. A grand jury indicted Servis with drug adulteration and misbranding conspiracy, along with mail and wire fraud. He is the last of those indicted in a multi-state investigation to have their cases resolved. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York prosecuted the cases, securing guilty pleas or jury convictions from the others, with the exception of one deferred prosecution agreement and several who had their charges dropped in a superseding indictment..

Specifically, prosecutors alleged Servis and others – from December 2016 through March 2020 – were “engaged in a corrupt scheme to secretly procure and distribute adulterated and misbranded PEDs and administer them to racehorses in a systematic effort to improve race performance.” The indictment said Servis worked with veterinarians Kristian Rhein and Alexander Chan to have SGF-1000 and clenbuterol illegally administered to his horses, including Grade 1 winners Maximum Security and World of Trouble. (Read about SGF-1000 here.) Maximum Security subsequently was voted an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male of 2019.

The indictment included details of an intercepted phone call between Rhein and Servis after Maximum Security had been tested out of competition prior to a June 16, 2019, race at Monmouth Park. Servis was concerned the horse would test positive for SGF-1000, which had been administered shortly before the drug test sample was taken. Rhein assured Servis he had nothing to worry about, saying “They don't even have a test for it … There's no test for it in America.”

Rhein added that SGF-1000 could trigger a false positive for the permitted anti-inflammatory dexamethasone, so Servis arranged to have another veterinarian falsify records to indicate that drug had been administered to Maximum Security.

Rhein was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty. Chan, who was scheduled to go on trial with Servis, changed his plea to guilty on Dec. 5 and is awaiting sentencing.

Servis and Navarro discussed their illegal drug use in intercepted telephone conversations and text messages that were included in the federal indictment.

On Feb. 18, 2019, Servis warned Navarro via text message that a racing official was in an area where both men allegedly stored and administered PEDs. If he not been warned by Servis, Navarro said later that day, “He would've caught our asses f–king pumping and pumping and fuming every f–king horse (that) runs today.”

On March 5, 2019, Servis told Navarro during an intercepted phone call that “I've been using it (SGF-1000) on everything almost.” Navarro responded, “Jay, we'll sit down and talk about this shit. I don't want to talk about this shit on the phone, OK?”

Navarro was sentenced to five years in prison.

The son of a jockey and steward at Charles Town and the older brother of Kentucky Derby-winning trainer John Servis, Jason Servis worked as an exercise rider and jockey valet at Monmouth Park before taking out his trainer's license in 2001. His first graded stakes win came in 2008 and Firenze Fire became his first Grade 1 winner when he took the 2017 Champagne. Servis added five additional Grade 1 wins – three of them by Maximum Security, who finished first in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference. Maximum Security also won the $20-million Saudi Cup less than two weeks before Servis and the others were indicted. Saudi officials withheld the first-place purse from that race.

In the years prior to his indictment, Servis won races at eye-opening rates: 45 percent during Gulfstream Park's 2018-19 championship meet and 41% at Monmouth Park in 2018. Navarro had similar strike rates at Gulfstream and Monmouth.

Horseplayers and many of his fellow trainers were skeptical of the successes enjoyed by Servis and Navarro, wondering how they did it.

Now they know.

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