The world of thoroughbred horse racing is no stranger to controversy. There have been incidents of race fixing and other violations. Perhaps the most serious issue that currently troubles horse racing is the use of illegal medications. Jason Servis rose to fame by training Maximum Security. His fame did not last long. Servis was ultimately indicted for using prohibited substances and arrested. Here’s a look at his story.
Jason Servis Struggles to Become a Winning Horse Trainer
Many horse trainers of thoroughbred race horses will tell you that it can take years to reach the highest levels of the sport. Such was the case for Jason Servis. The brother of John Servis, the trainer of Smarty Jones, Jason immediately discovered that training winners at the race track is far from easy.
Still, Servis did not do bad for a new trainer. He was able to reach seven-figure earnings from his horses in 2004, just three years after taking out his license. Not many trainers can say that. With the early success came better horses from better owners. That led to more wins. By the time 2013 had rolled around, Jason Servis had earned a personal best of $3.4 million in purse earnings for the year.
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He won his first graded stakes race in 2008 with American Border. The accomplishment only added to the respect Servis’ stable was starting to get, but there were also whispers on the backstretch. Some claimed that Servis was giving his horses additional help in the form of illegal medications. Servis was quick to deny the charges when he was questioned by industry officials or the press.
Then, Servis was given the opportunity of a lifetime. He blew it.
Maximum Security Comes to the Jason Servis Barn
Gary and Mary West took a chance on Servis and decided to send him their colt, Maximum Security. The breeding on the colt looked promising. After a win in the Florida Derby, Maximum Security seemed to be firmly placed on the Kentucky Derby trail.
When Jason Servis and his entourage arrived in Kentucky with Maximum Security, the whispers started again. There were those who weren’t convinced that the colt was as talented as he seemed. They were further doubtful that a trainer that had primarily made his living working on the small circuits could condition a horse for the Kentucky Derby.
The federal authorities had Servis on their radar and were starting to put the pieces together. While investigations were underway, Maximum Security soared to a win in the Kentucky Derby only to be disqualified for interference. Maximum Security and Jason Servis became the first horse and trainer to win and lose the Kentucky Derby on the same day.
Servis and the Wests decided not to run Maximum Security in the Preakness or Belmont Stakes. They had other stakes races in mind. One of these was the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup in early 2020. It was billed as the richest horse race in the world with a purse of $20 million. Maximum Security won the race, but the celebration came to a screeching halt in March 2020 when Jason Servis was indicted on federal charges.
Jason Servis Gets Arrested
Servis was named among other in 27 indictments handed down in New York for the use of PEDs and other banned substances in horse racing. The men indicted were arrested and subsequently posted bail. Gary and Mary West were prompt to act, removing Maximum Security from the barn of Jason Servis. The horse was sent to the barn of Bob Baffert.
As of March 2021, the case of Jason Servis was still pending before the courts. Others charged in the scandal have been sentenced, with one individual receiving one year in federal prison. Regardless, the career of Servis has likely been damaged beyond repair.
The Problem of Drugging in Horse Racing
It would be unfair to say that Jason Servis is alone when it comes to breaking the rules in horse racing. The issue of illegal medications has long been a thorn in the side of the sport. Servis found himself in the unfortunate position of being caught.
Maximum Security was among the horses alleged to have been doped. Anyone can see how this can pose a problem. If this was the case, did the illegal medicines help the horse win the Saudi Cup? That would be grounds for other trainers to claim foul and strip the horse of the honor, and of the purse earnings.
What about the bettors who wagered other horses in the Saudi Cup? Should they be refunded their losing wagers. You can soon understand that illegal medications open up an entire world of problems for horse racing.
The racing world will soon find out what will happen to Jason Servis. In the meantime, Maximum Security is still being trained to compete by Bob Baffert. Their stories continue.
JASON SERVIS UPDATE – 4th Aug 2022
At EZ Horse Betting we believe it is our responsibility to be accurate and fair in the news we report. This update on horse racing trainer Jason Servis is provided in an effort to give our readers the most current information.
No article in the history of our website has generated such passionate feedback from readers. Clearly, there are people on both sides of the issue. EZ Horse Betting stands by the points made in the original article, but we also realize that the article may have been somewhat unfair to Jason Servis as the legal proceedings continue.
To be clear, Jason Servis is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law according to the laws of the United States. Mr. Servis has remained steadfast in his denial of wrongdoing. The allegations against Jason Servis are just that…allegations…until a judge decides otherwise.
Jason Servis Horse Racing Trial Postponed Until Early 2023
According to the Bloodhorse, the federal trial of horse racing trainer Jason Servis has been postponed until at least early 2023. The charges against Servis stem from incidents involving the use of illegal medications. Servis was named along with more than 24 other horse racing trainers in a probe by the federal government.
The original allegations against Jason Servis led to the trainer’s arrest following an indictment in march 2020. At the time, Servis was the trainer of Maximum Security. The owners of Maximum Security subsequently chose to move the horse to the care of another trainer.
EZ Horse Betting is closely monitoring the proceedings against Jason Servis and will provide further updates as necessary.
JASON SERVIS UPDATE – 1st January 2023
HORSE TRAINER JASON SERVIS PLEADS GUILTY
Readers of EZ Horse Betting know that we have been following the criminal proceedings against thoroughbred horse trainer Jason Servis. In the most recent development, Jason Servis has plead guilty to a federal case involving the doping of multiple horses. Servis now faces sentencing for his crimes on May 18, 2023.
The Case Against Jason Servis
The guilty plea of Jason Servis thoroughbred trainer comes after months of legal wrangling by the federal government and Servis’ attorneys. Servis was originally indicted in 2020 along with 26 other people in the thoroughbred horse racing industry. The charges included what was referred to as a “widespread, corrupt scheme” to dope horses in an attempt to improve racing performance.
Certain medications are banned in the sport of horse racing. These medications include performance-enhancing substances as well as medications that are meant to allow horses to run through injury or pain. Investigators alleged that Servis doped almost all of the horses in his care, including Maximum Security. Maximum Security was disqualified from a first place finish in the Kentucky Derby and also won the inaugural running of the Saudi Cup.
Some individuals stood beside Servis as the evidence began to mount against him. That evidence ultimately became so overwhelming that Servis no longer had any choice but to plead guilty to the charges against him.
US Attorney Has Strong Words for Jason Servis
In an interview following the guilty plea, US Attorney Damian Williams did not mince words when it came to the result. Williams referred to Servis as someone that represented corruption at the highest levels of the racing industry.
Marty Irby, the executive director of Animal Wellness Action, called Servis a “kingpin of organized crime and abuse.” The general consensus of those within and without the horse racing industry is that Jason Servis abused the animals in his care by administering illegal drugs. This has not endeared him to activist who claim such abuse is rampant in horse racing.
Organizations such as PETA and other animal welfare agencies have long claimed that many trainers in the industry are engaged in doping. Each year there are instances of horses failing drug tests. Even the Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert has not escaped the shadow of illegal doping. Multiple horses in Baffert’s care have tested positive for drugs.
Saudis May Strip Maximum Security of Saudi Cup
Maximum Security won the Saudi Cup in 2020. It was the richest prize in horse racing at the time. Just a few days after the race was completed, Jason Servis was indicted for illegal doping. There are reports that the Saudis are now conducting their own investigation to determine if Maximum Security should be disqualified from the Saudi Cup win.
It would be difficult to recoup the money that was paid to the connections of Maximum Security. However, the record of the race itself could be amended to show that the horse illegally won the race.
What the Guilty Plea of Jason Servis means for Horse Racing
Many people have been following this story now for some time. This includes some rather passionate supporters of Servis who have commented on our previous posts. The guilty plea of Jason Servis now leaves no room for debate. He is guilty of the crimes of which he was accused by his own admission.
No one can predict the sentence that Servis will receive in May 2023 for his crimes. At 65 years old, it is possible that Servis may be seeing his last days as a free man. Federal guidelines mandate that Jason Servis will serve the majority of his sentence, which could be many years due to the number of horses Servis is believed to have doped.
Horse racing will surely be impacted by the guilty plea and the sentencing of Jason Servis. The best outcome would be that other trainers see the potential of harm in giving horses illegal medications.