By Rob Frehse, CNN
A top thoroughbred trainer who prosecutors said doped nearly all the horses under his control pleaded guilty Friday in a federal court, the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York announced.
Jason Servis pleaded guilty for his role acquiring, distributing and directing others to administer performance enhancing drugs to racehorses, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors previously said Servis doped “virtually all the horses under his control,” including Maximum Security, the colt that crossed the finish line first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference. In 2020, Maximum Security won $10 million in the inaugural Saudi Cup.
“Servis’ conduct represents corruption at the highest levels of the racehorse industry,” US Attorney Damian Williams said Friday in a news release. “As a licensed racehorse trainer, Servis was bound to protect the horses under his care and to comply with racing rules designed to ensure the safety and well-being of horses and protect the integrity of the sport. Servis abdicated his responsibilities to the animals, to regulators, and to the public.”
Servis’ attorney, Rita Glavin, declined to comment when reached by CNN.
The executive director of Animal Wellness Action, who testified in support of anti-doping legislation before Congress in 2020, called Servis’ actions a disgrace.
“Jason Servis’ actions and abuse of our iconic American equines has been the worst disgrace American horse racing has ever seen,” Marty Irby said in a statement to CNN. “We applaud The Jockey Club, president Jim Gagliano, chairman Stuart Janney and everyone at the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s office who worked diligently for years to bring down this kingpin of organized crime and abuse.”
Servis’ case was part of four indictments unsealed in 2020 accusing 27 people — horse trainers, veterinarians and drug distributors — of carrying out separate but related conspiracies to covertly provide performance-enhancing drugs to racehorses.
One indictment called the defendants’ actions a “widespread, corrupt scheme” to secretly administer these drugs to racehorses, evade rules that prohibit them and deceive horse racing authorities and regulators in order to “improve race performance and obtain prize money” from races in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and the United Arab Emirates, “all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses.”
Servis will be sentenced May 18, prosecutors said. In his career, Servis has trained horses that won 26 Grade 1 stakes races and more than 1,300 races overall, according to the horse racing information and statistic website Equibase.com.
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CNN’s Richard Roth, Sonia Moghe, Eric Levenson and Isa Kaufman-Geballe contributed to this story.