Navarro Pleads Guilty on Giving Horses Performance Enhancing Drugs
Former jockey Jorge Navarro, who pleaded guilty (August 2021) to charges that he gave performance-enhancing drugs to horses he rode in more than 50 races, faces a maximum of five years if sentenced (currently serving 18months). All of his races included sham bets on NetBet and hence, declared out of order. He rode at Santa Anita Park; also pleaded guilty to conspiring with the owners of racehorses to administer performance-enhancing drugs to the horses.
Navarro’s findings are part of “Operation Equine,” a federal investigation culminating in charges against 21 people related to the high-profile case, including six trainers, four owners, five veterinarians and one drug company. He recommended lifetime disqualifications for Navarro, who once won the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park in New York City, and for three other defendants, including two veterinarians.
Navarro’s admissions came as the sport’s ruling body, the International Federation for Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), announced details of two-year bans handed down to three international veterinarians – Navarro, Antonio Salazar and Urbano Villanueva – for their roles in the scheme, which has seen at least five horses sent to slaughter and countless others linked to positive drug tests. In 2019, a Maximum Security guard and jockey, Jason Servis, won the Kentucky Derby for a filly, the Maximum Security’s second win in the iconic race. His name came up in the Navarro case.
Horse racing is one of the most popular gambling activities in the United States. More than 8,000 horse races are held each year at thoroughbred tracks. Millions of Americans attend these races, and hundreds of millions more watch them on television or visit Internet sites dedicated to horseracing.
Banned UK sports doctor Navarro previously worked with a string of famous thoroughbreds before being arrested after painstaking efforts by the UK’s National Crime Agency. The FBI later raided his California offices, seizing close to a dozen horses and millions in assets. In exchange for a lighter sentence, Navarro has been cooperating with investigators to help track the flow of money used to buy horses abroad that could then be raced in the US.
Jorge Navarro, 35, has his hearing fast approaching December 17th, determined at the Manhattan Federal court. Federal authorities described the scheme in court papers as a general international operation in which horses were routinely injected with steroids and other drugs to enhance their performance. The documents said that in one race alone in 2010, the Navarros and others shipped in 21 horses with drugs in their systems.
The judge accepted a plea agreement between the defence and the prosecution. Navarro agreed to pay $25.9 million, which is equal to his winnings tied to doping. Navarro, who had the facade of a successful trainer, was, in fact, a reckless fraudster. Navarro’s lawyer (Kreiss) said his client accepted responsibility for his actions.
Prosecutors said Navarro trained and doped horses using XY Jet, a thoroughbred who won Dubai’s 2019 Golden Shaheen race. The horse died last year of a perceptible heart attack.
On the track, Navarro was notorious for placing bets that were so small, and game officials called them “nickel and dimers.” But Navarro’s winning horses couldn’t be ignored. As jockeys competed in the Belmont Stakes in 2008, it became clear that one horse was far ahead of the others. The chemical known as XY Jet, which is considered illegal in much of the world, had been detected in the horse, Court documents stated.
The history of horseracing in the United States is long, colourful, and varied. During the colonial period, racing was the most popular type of gambling in North America. It has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome, where people gathered around tracks to place bets on human athletes engaged in foot races. Horseracing also evolved from man’s relationship to his horse, a companion to humankind for thousands of years. The indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere developed their horse racing traditions.
It contributed (s) billions of dollars to local and state tax revenue and provided well-paying jobs to people in surrounding communities. The horse racing industry promotes the economic growth of pari-mutuel facilities and surrounding hotels, housing communities, retail establishments, restaurants, and real estate development projects.