The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) confirmed Monday it is withholding all purse monies from the $20 million Feb. 29 inaugural running of The Saudi Cup.
Winner Maximum Security was trained by Jason Servis, who has since been indicted on U.S. Federal charges relating to the drugging of horses under his care.
Maximum Security was among the horses removed from Servis’ barn by owners Gary and Mary West following announcement of the indictment.
The owners’ subsequently had Maximum Security thoroughly examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage of the Lexington, KY Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. Dr. Bramlage issued a report March 21 finding the horse was free of any serious health concerns, recommending only rest. He will be placed in the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
The JCSA said in its media press release:
JCSA is aware that Mr Jason Servis, trainer of the horse, Maximum Security (USA), the first placed horse in The Saudi Cup, has been indicted in the United States of America on charges relating to the administration of prohibited substances to horses in training under his care and control. JCSA is conducting its own investigation in respect of the allegations and until that investigation is concluded, JCSA will withhold payment of prize money due to all connections of horses placed in prize-winning positions in The Saudi Cup, Race 8.
The statement goes on to suggest that investigation could take some time:
Due to difficult operational circumstances caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic, the investigation has not yet concluded.
Maximum Security passed his post-race drug test. However, allegations in the Federal indictment infer the drug in question, SGF-1000, could go undetected in tests used by many racetracks.
Altering the results of the race could prove complicated.
The runnerup was Midnight Bisou, but that mare’s jockey Mike Smith was fined 60 percent of his prize money and suspended nine days for excessive use of the whip in that race and failing to weigh-in following his finish in a previous race that day. Those penalties were subsequently upheld.
Jockey Irad Ortiz rode fourth-place finisher Mucho Gusto, but was also cited for excessive whip strokes, fined 10 percent of his prize money and suspended for two days. Those penalties were also subsequently upheld.
Those riding suspensions were honored in the U.S.
SGF-1000, a mysterious drug, is at the center of the delay in awarding of the purse monies and of four Federal indictments handed down against 27 individuals by Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on March 9.
The drug is one of three marketed and sold Medivet Equine, which promotes itself as the provider of “all natural, drug-free products and lab services designed to optimize the overall health of performance horses.” The drug is claimed to increase body mass.
The indictment alleges SGF-1000 is “misbranded” or “adulterated.” Those considerations are for drugs that do not have required approval for use in an animal from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; if a drug is used without a valid prescription; if the drug’s label is false; or, if the facility manufacturing the drug is not registered with the Federal Department of Agriculture.
Use of any drug is considered illegal by the JCSA. Saudi Arabia has some of the harshest penalties for drug use in the world.
Those indicted included Servis and fellow New York-based trainer Jorge Navarro. The indictment alleges Servis recommended use of the drug to the Navarro in a March 5 phone call intercepted by Federal investigators.
Also indicted were Michael Kegley Jr., the director of sales at Medivet Equine, and veterinarian Dr. Kristian Rhein for distribution of a “misbranded and adulterated” allegedly performance-enhancing drug.
The Saudi Cup race results investigation only complicates the career and legacy of Maximum Security. The apparent Kentucky Derby winner was subsequently disqualified for interference. The Derby win was awarded to Country House.
Maximum Security returned to the track for consecutive wins prior to his victory in The Saudi Cup. He earned the Three-Year-old Male Eclipse Award. His breeding rights were sold to Ireland-based Coolmore. He is slated to stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, KY upon retirement from racing.