Photo of Maximum Security, drugged super-horse trained by Jason Servis
Source: AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Two of Thoroughbred racing’s top trainers of the last several years, Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, amongst many others in their circle, have been indicted for doping horses. Both men’s bail was set at $200,000, which each has posted, and they remain free
According to the Times Herald-Record, Navarro is responsible for having at least 12 horses die under his care since he became a regular in 2010 at Monmouth Park, and Servis allegedly has another 7 that have died under his watchful eyes. It takes a lot to kill a horse. They don’t want to die. They want to live, just like you do.
The question begs, “What is wrong with these men?” Have they no feelings for the horse’s lives? Is the “game” that important to them that they would stoop to killing these horses to meet their narcissistic, emotionally sick needs?
Jason Servis comes from a long line of men in the horse racing business. In West Virginia at Charles Town Race Track, his father, Joe Servis, was the manager of the Jockey’s Guild and a Steward for nearly 25 years. Both distinguished titles are usually awarded only to men of honor, integrity, and high regard.
Jason’s brother is John Servis, who campaigned Smarty Jones to winning the first 2 legs of the Triple Crown in 2004. Would wanting to keep up with his brother and be respected within his family, lead Jason to willfully murder horses?
Would wanting to make his father proud of him drive Jason Servis to give his prize horses drugs to enhance their performance? Putting their lives at risk? I guess so.
I remember Jason Servis as a valet in the Monmouth Park jockey’s room. He barely, if ever, spoke to me, as I was not a popular or wildly successful jockey. Jason always worked for the successful jockeys who were connected to the successful trainers.
As a jockey, it is difficult to get noticed if one rides for trainers who don’t win. In the following article, trainer Mark Casse reiterates that competing against trainers who cheat is a lost cause going into a race. Why even try to win? You know the best you can do is to finish second. What do you say to the horse’s owners time after time when you don’t win? It makes the losing trainer look bad.
Similarly, when I rode as a jockey at Philadelphia Park Race Track in 2000, the other jockeys would only try to win second money if the leading trainer had a horse in the race. We knew that horse was going to win. The best we could do is to save second. The same story happens to the losing trainer. Being a jockey, if you don’t ride for the cheaters, they say, “Oh, she never wins.”
I noticed my stats one time in 2000 as an apprentice rider at Garden State Park. They showed a record of 2 winners and 10 seconds. The 10 seconds were to the top trainers who were using the cancer drug EPO at the time. I never once rode for the top trainer at any track who won races with one hand tied behind his back. My career stats certainly show that.
One cannot legitimately compete against drugs.