In a twist of irony, the former trainer of the horse Maximum Security now faces some potential time in a facility associated with that phrase. Jason Servis, who was implicated in a doping scheme involving many horses over two years, has pleaded guilty to associated charges.
A release from the US Justice Dept. details the harmful and illegal conduct that Servis has admitted to taking part in. Servis’ guilty plea is just part of an illicit network that the government is untangling, though.
Jason Servis faces sentencing on doping charges
US Atty for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams has shared that Servis pleaded guilty in the district’s court on Friday. According to Williams, Servis took part in a widespread scheme to conceal the administration of performance-enhancing drugs to the horses he was training.
Specifically, the charges state that Servis oversaw the delivery of the banned substance SGF-1000 into the circulatory systems of those horses. To do so, he worked with unregistered facilities to obtain the drug and another substance, Clenbuterol, which masked the presence of SGF-1000 in testing.
To further cover his tracks, Servis also falsified documentation. Servis was first arrested on charges related to these actions in March 2020. At that time, he was one of 27 people implicated. The most notable horse that sadly was a victim of the scheme was Maximum Security. That horse finished first at the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was later disqualified due to interference.
The release says that the court will issue its sentence to Servis on May 18, 2023. It’s unclear right now what kind of penalties Justice will pursue or if Servis’ guilty plea was part of a negotiation for a potentially lighter sentence.
Ramifications still being felt
Some of the other people who were implicated in the same incidents are still awaiting their fates in court. Two actions in the overarching case, United States v. Navarro, are currently upon appeal to the US Second Circuit, for example.
For Servis, however, the only thing that remains is his sentencing. The prosecutions of these crimes are crucial to regulating the horse racing industry and the health of accompanying enterprises like wagering on those races.
As an example of the consequences of these schemes, wagering interest fell to a historic low in 2020 for the Kentucky Derby. Of course, the time-shifted and spectator-free status of that race due to the COVID-19 pandemic played a part in that situation.
A lack of bettor confidence was integral in that 52% year-over-year decline, however. Hopefully, the conviction of Servis and others involved in the scheme will not only restore confidence but help protect horses from the abuse of such people moving forward.