Horse Racing Indictments
Our phones starting buzzing on the morning of March 9th. It was news of the FBI’s surprise raids at a racetrack and horse training facility in Florida around 5:00 A.M.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York handed down 40 indictments of trainers, veterinarians, and drug distributors in multiple states. Among the individuals charged were Jorge Navarro, and Jason Servis, the trainer of Maximum Security whose win at last year’s Kentucky Derby was revoked after judges reviewed the tape and disqualified him for running into another horse. And Maximum Security just won the $10 million dollar prize at the Saudi Cup just two weeks prior to the federal enforcement actions.
The indictment claims that “virtually all” of Servis’ horses in more than 1,000 races over the past two years were drugged. In reviewing the larger set of indictments, they detail a scheme of misbranding and distributing various drugs to defraud state regulators, horseracing fans, and the betting public by secretly doping horses in the $100 billion global industry.
While the Department of Justice’s actions are a thunderbolt and give us great encouragement that justice may be served, it’s just the first critical step if we hope to see serious-minded reform in American horseracing. You see, American horseracing is addicted to drugs, and unlike the drugs at the center of the indictments, many others are legal, and have been approved for use by various state racing commissions.
That’s why Animal Wellness is pushing for the passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, H.R. 1754 by Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Andy Barr, R-Ky., and S. 1820 by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Martha McSally, R-Ariz. AWA executive director Marty Irby testified in support of the legislation in January that would protect American racehorses through the establishment of a national, uniform standard for drugs and medication in horseracing. It would also grant drug rulemaking, testing, and enforcement oversight to a private, non-profit, self-regulatory independent organization managed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) — the governing body that runs the Olympic anti-doping program.
Over the past year, we’ve seen more than 500 horses die at American racetracks, and the body count climbs every day. Unscrupulous trainers that drug horses are not only putting animals and jockeys at risk of life and limb, but they are rigging the system and making a mockery of anyone who bets based on their knowledge of the athletes involved.
You can contact your Members of Congress by clicking here and calling 202-225-3121 and asking them to cosponsor the Horseracing Integrity Act.
Other NLEC News
The indictment claims that “virtually all” of Servis’ horses in more than 1,000 races over the past two years were drugged.