Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro, the top names in federal indictments unsealed last week tying the trainers into a doping scheme, will plead not guilty on their charges when they appear in a New York court on Monday.
That’s according to an Asbury Park Press investigation published Tuesday by reporter Stephen Edelson, who detailed that 12 deaths of horses in Navarro’s care at Monmouth Park since 2010 are the most there of any trainer. Servis had seven horses from his barn die at the track to rank second on that list.
While Monmouth Park does not appear in the indictments, Navarro and Servis base a large part of their respective stables at the New Jersey track each summer. According to Edelson, the trainers’ barns were next to one another.
Navarro won the Monmouth meet title with 68 victories, while Servis captured its top race, the Haskell Invitational (G1), with Maximum Security, the champion 3-year-old colt to whom he allegedly administered the banned substance SGF-1000, which federal investigators say includes “growth factors.”
Navarro’s rap sheet is longer, with the feds referring to his “widespread scheme” to mislabel, administer and conceal performance-enhancing drugs as the “Navarro Doping Program.”
According to documents, harness trainer Nick Surick, also charged in the bombshell indictments, was recorded on an intercepted call saying of Navarro: “You know how many f—— horses he f—— killed and broke down that I made disappear? You know how much trouble he could get in … if they found out … the six horses we killed?”
According to Edelson’s report, the majority of both trainers’ horses to die at Monmouth Park suffered musculoskeletal injuries. Attorneys for both trainers declined comment to the Asbury Park Press beyond offering that their clients will plead not guilty.
Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth Park, campaigned horses with Servis as his trainer. Drazin said in a statement Monday that the indictment was “particularly sad” given that fact.
“I have always advocated that cheating cannot be tolerated and I would never tolerate illegal conduct,” Drazin said, adding that he will move his horses to trainer Pat McBurney.
The New Jersey Racing Commission has suspended Servis. Navarro wasn’t yet licensed in the state for 2020.
“The NJRC has diligently tested for drugs for many years and utilized respected reputable labs to do so,” Drazin said. “I am a former Chairman of the NJRC and can assure you that our regulators take their jobs seriously and endeavor to catch all cheaters.
“… Regarding the indictments, if proven, they threaten the very integrity of our sport and must be seriously addressed. We can have no tolerance for those who cheat or try to take an illegal edge. I am calling upon our New Jersey legislature to enact a more comprehensive form of sweeping reforms than currently has been stalled in Washington, otherwise known as the Horseracing Integrity Act.
“I have already started the process of asking the State of New Jersey to pass legislation, which in addition to the worthwhile reforms contained in the HIA, will include more widespread reforms including, but not limited to: racetrack safety and integrity; racetrack surface safety inspections; increased examination of horses who intend to race or train at our racetracks; jockey health and safety; changes in the whip rule; post-racing aftercare for horses; uniformity in medication rules and penalties; sharing of all veterinary reports amongst interested parties; and, many other needed reforms.”