The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York dropped a bombshell on the horse racing industry on Monday morning with federal indictments against 27 people in a horse racing doping scheme that includes well known trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis.
Horseplayers have long questioned how Navarro and Servis win at high percentages and have shown marked improvement when horses enter their barn. The indictments spell out in detail the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs and answers some of those questions.
The colt went from breaking his maiden for a paltry $16,000 claiming tag to winning four Grade 1 races and then the world’s richest race in a span of 14 months.
Servis has won over 1,300 races and purse earnings that exceed $52 million. His career winning percentage is at 25% and he won at a 32% clip overall in 2018.
Navarro has had horses test positive for Class 1 drugs in the past and was fined $5,000 for “conduct detrimental to racing” after a video surfaced in 2017 of him and owner Randal Gindi watching a race at Monmouth Park.
The video, which was deleted from YouTube captured the following:
Gindi: “Adios, amigos. Adios, amigos. The juice man!”
Navarro: “Is that a Navarro? Is that a Navarro? Is that a Navarro at 2-1? That’s the way we do it.”
Gindi: “That’s the juice. That’s the vegetable juice.”
Navarro: “We fuck everyone”
Gindi: “We fuck everyone, and I line my pockets with the bookie with another twenty thousand. Oh, yeah! Life is great.”
Navarro’s Doping Allegedly Includes X Y Jet
Navarro has had an uncanny knack of claiming horses and their performances improve dramatically. He has won at a 28% rate in his career. In 2013 he won at a 35% clip and in 2018 won at a rate of 34% overall.
Among the horses he allegedly gave performance enhancing drugs to was X Y Jet. The indictment alleges that X Y Jet was administered performing enhancing drugs prior to him winning the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1).
X J Jet died of an apparent heart attack in January.
Trainer Michael Tannuzzo was also among the 27 indicted, the list including veterinarians, assistant trainers, pharmacists and drug distributors.
Tannuzzo had his best year in 2019 where he won 15 races from 78 starters (19%). He formerly was an assistant trainer for Navarro.
From the indictment: “On or about February 18, 2019, SERVIS warned NAVARRO, via text message, of the presence of a racing official in the barn area where SERVIS and NAVARRO stored and administered PEDs to their respective racehorses. On the same day, during an intercepted call between NAVARRO and MICHAEL TANNUZZO (a defendant charged in Count One of this Indictment) NAVARRO explained, in part, that he otherwise would have been caught doping:
“would’ve caught our asses fucking pumping and pumping and fuming every fucking horse [that] runs today.”- Jorge Navarro from indictment
Here are Excerpts from the Indictment
Defendants: JORGE NAVARRO, ERICA GARCIA, CHRISTOPHER OAKES, MARCOS ZULUETA, MICHAEL TANNUZZO, GREGORY SKELTON, ROSS COHEN, SETH FISHPIAN, LISA GIANNELLI, JORDAN FISHMAN, RICK DANE, JR. , JASON SERVIS, KRISTIAN RHEIN, MICHAEL KEGLEY, ALEXANDER CHAN , HENRY ARGUETA, NICHOLAS SURICK, REBECCA LINKE, and CHRISTOPHER MARINO
The charges in this Indictment result from a widespread, corrupt scheme by racehorse trainers, veterinarians, PED distributors, and others to manufacture, distribute, and receive adulterated and misbranded PEDs and to secretly administer those PEDs to racehorses under scheme participants’ control. By evading PED prohibitions and deceiving regulators and horse racing authorities, among others, participants sought to improve race performance and obtain prize money from racetracks throughout the United States and other countries, including in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky , and the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) , all to the detriment and risk of the health and well—being of the racehorses . Trainers who participated in the scheme stood to profit from the success of racehorses under their control by earning a share of their horses’ winnings, and by improving their horses’ racing records, thereby yielding higher trainer fees and increasing the number of racehorses under their control.
NAVARRO and his co—conspirators concealed the purchase and administration of adulterated and misbranded PEDs from federal and state government agencies, racing officials, the betting public, and others. NAVARRO executed this scheme by using PEDs designed to evade drug tests, physically concealing containers of PEDs and drug paraphernalia from state regulators and racing officials, administering and directing others to covertly administer PEDs, and shipping certain products designed to mask the presence of PEDs through a straw purchaser.
At all times relevant to this Indictment, JASON SERVIS, the defendant, was a racehorse trainer who orchestrated a widespread scheme of covertly obtaining and administering adulterated and misbranded PEDs, including a PED called SGF—IOOO, to virtually all of the racehorses under his control. From 2018 to February 2020, SERVIS entered horses in approximately 1, 082 races. SERVIS and his co—conspirators concealed the administration of PEDs from federal and state government agencies, racing officials, and the betting public.
PEDs relevant to this Indictment include the following:
Erythropoietin and analogues: Commonly referred to by participants in the racing industry, generally, by the brand name “Epogen, or by the shorthand “epon erythropoietin is used to boost a racehorse’s red blood cell count in order to stimulate endurance during a race and improve race recovery. Similar customized “blood building” substances are referred to by the defendants using various code names including “BB3” and “Monkey.” “Blood builders, when combined with intense physical exertion, thicken the horse’ s blood, thereby causing increased cardiac exertion and pressure, which can lead to cardiac issues or death.
“SGF-IOOO”: SGF-IOOO is a customized PED purportedly containing “growth factors, ” including fibroblast growth factor and hepatocyte growth factor, which are intended to promote tissue repair and increase a racehorse’ s stamina and endurance beyond its natural capability. SGF—IOOO is compounded and manufactured in unregistered facilities. SGE—IOOO, like many other customized PEDs, may cause racehorses to perform beyond their natural abilities r thereby increasing the risk of possible injuries.
Customized Analgesics: Referred to by the defendants as “pain shots” or joint blocks, ” customized analgesics contain various pain—relieving substances. Among other things, customized analgesics mask physical injuries in a racehorse, which can cause a racehorse to overexert itself during periods of intense physical exercise, and thereby sustain a leg injury or break during a race. Oftentimes, racehorses that sustain leg injuries or breaks are euthanized.
“Red acid”: “Red acid” is a term used by the defendants to refer generally to customized PEDs designed, in part, to reduce inflammation in joints, thereby improving a racehorse’ s race performance. Similar to customized analgesics, “red acid, ” among other things, is administered to mask physical injuries in racehorses, thereby increasing the risk of injury while racing.
NAVARRO paid SETH FISHMAN tens of thousands of dollars from at least January 2017 through at least April 2019 to purchase PEDs.
JORGE NAVARRO, the defendant, has also acquired PEDs from other trainers.
Among the most successful of the racehorses to which JORGE NAVARRO, the defendant, administered PEDs was the thoroughbred racehorse XY Jet. XY Jet was a racehorse trained throughout 2019, and until his death in or about January 2020, by NAVARRO.
On or about February 13, 2019, the day of the Florida race, NAVARRO instructed OAKES to visit XY Jet to administer the PED, and to lie to racing officials if necessary, to access the racehorse: “Drive through. If anything, if they stop you. You are an owner and you come to Navarro’s barn. ”
NAVARRO’s administration of PEDs to XY Jet in the weeks leading up to, and on the day of, the race in Dubai, and NAVARRO explained: “I gave it to him through 50 injections. I gave it to him through the mouth.”
Following XY Jet’s victory in Dubai, SETH FISHMAN, the defendant, congratulated NAVARRO on the win via text message, and NAVARRO replied, in part and among other things, “Thank u boss u are a big part of it.”
On or about January 8, 2020, JORGE NAVARRO, the defendant, publicly announced that XY Jet had died of an apparent heart attack.
On or about February 13, 2019, GARCIA agreed, during a telephone conversation with NAVARRO, to administer an adulterated and misbranded blood builder PED, “monkey, to racehorses under NAVARRO’s control.
On or about April 5, 2019, NAVARRO sent text messages to SETH FISHMAN, while SETH FISHMAN was located in the Southern District of New York, requesting “1000 pills asap.”
On or about May 29, 2019, NAVARRO held a conference call with the operators of a racing stable in California, for whom NAVARRO is a trainer, during which they discussed a series of poor performances by “Nanooshr” a racehorse trained by NAVARRO. During the call, one of the operators questioned whether NAVARRO was “giving them [that operator’ s racehorses] all the shit, t’ later asking, “Is this horse jacked out? Is he on fucking pills or what or are we just fucking —r to which NAVARRO responded, “Everything . . . he gets everything. ” Individual—I then cut the discussion short, stating: “You don’t have to tell me on the phone. ”
From at least in or about August 2013 through at least in or about October 2019, SETH FISHMAN, LISA GIANNELLI, JORDAN FISHMAN, and RICK DANE, JR., the defendants, and others known and unknown, engaged in a corrupt scheme to create, manufacture, and distribute adulterated and misbranded PEDs to racehorse trainers and others in a systematic effort to improve race performance of racehorses, and obtain prize money as a result.
JORDAN FISHMAN, the defendant, who is not a licensed veterinarian, manufactures PEDs at defendant SETH FISHMAN’ s direction, for the purpose of providing those substances to racehorse trainers and owners for administration to racehorses.
Between at least in or about April 2019 to at least in or about September 2019, JASON SERVIS, KRISTIAN RHEINr MICHAEL KEGLEY, JR. , ALEXANDER CHAN, HENRY ARGUETA, and JORGE NAVARRO, the defendants , 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 of racehorses under the defendants’ and others’ control, and obtain prize money as a result. Over the course of the scheme, SERVIS, RHEIN, KEGLEY, JR., CHAN, ARGUETA, and NAVARRO, and other coconspirators not named herein, manufactured, purchased, sold, shipped, delivered, received, and administered PEDs for use on racehorses.
SERVIS worked with KRISTIAN RHEIN, ALEXANDER CHAN, and HENRY ARGUETA, the defendants, among others, to procure and administer adulterated and misbranded PEDs, including the adulterated and misbranded PED SGF—IOOO , for the purpose of doping several racehorses under SERVIS’ control, including Maximum Security. On a March 5, 2019 intercepted call between SERVIS and JORGE NAVARRO, the defendant, SERVIS recommended “SGF” to NAVARRO, stating, “I’ve been using it on everything almost. ” NAVARRO stated on that call that he “got more than 12 horses on” SGF—IOOO, and shortly after ended the call: “I don’t want to talk about this shit on the phone ok.”
On or about June 5, 2019, New Jersey racing regulators tested Maximum Security for PEDs a short time after Maximum Security had received a shot of SGF—IOOO. The testing occurred in advance of a race scheduled for June 16, 2019, in which Maximum Security competed and placed second. On an intercepted call between JASON SERVIS and KRISTIAN RHEIN, the defendants, after the drug test, RHEIN counseled SERVIS and reassured him that Maximum Security would not test positive: [t] hey don’t even have a test for it [SGF—IOOO]. There’s no test for it in America.” RHEIN further stated that the SGF—IOOO may appear on a drug test as a false positive result for a different substance, “Dex. ” That same day, SERVIS discussed Maximum Security’ s drug test with another veterinarian, who agreed to falsify records to make it appear as if the racehorse had received “Dex, rather than SGF.
On or about February 18, 2019, SERVIS warned NAVARRO, via text message, of the presence of a racing official in the barn area where SERVIS and NAVARRO stored and administered PEDs to their respective racehorses. On the same day, during an intercepted call between NAVARRO and MICHAEL TANNUZZO (a defendant charged in Count One of this Indictment) NAVARRO explained, in part, that he otherwise would have been caught doping : would’ve caught our asses fucking pumping and pumping and fuming every fucking horse [that] runs today.”
On or about March 5, 2019, SERVIS and NAVARRO coordinated regarding the procurement and administration of SGF— 1000. During that call, SERVIS, stated: ” I ‘ve been using it [SGF— 1000 ] on everything almost, ” before NAVARRO stopped the conversation: “Jay we’ll sit down and talk about this shit I don’t want to talk about this shit on the phone, ok.”