In the latest fallout from a long-running horse doping scandal ensnaring some of the sports top trainers and veterinarians, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced it is withholding the purse distribution for the $20 million Saudi Cup pending its own internal investigation.

Maximum Security Winning Saudi Cup
Maximum Security edged Benbatl to win $10 million in February’s inaugural Saudi Cup. Saudi officials froze purse payments pending an investigation surrounding his trainer, Jason Servis. (Image: Reuters)

Maximum Security won the Feb. 29, $20 million Saudi Cup, the richest race in the world. But eight days later, federal authorities indicted the horse’s trainer – Jason Servis – and 26 other individuals on various charges related to the administering of drugs and misbranding of those drugs to horses.

The JCSA announced in a release it will not release purse money until its investigation is complete.

Drug Fallout Affects All Saudi Cup Runners

“JCSA is aware that Mr. Jason Servis, trainer of the horse, Maximum Security, 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. This decision has been communicated privately to connections of Saudi Cup runners.”

The statement went on to say the investigation is still ongoing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that no further statement will come until it concludes.

Aside from the $10 million Maximum Security won on the track, the purse freeze affects three other US-based horses. Midnight Bisou earned $3.5 million for finishing second, Mucho Gusto $1.5 million for placing fourth, and Tacitus $1 million for finishing fifth.

No Mention of Test Results On Maximum Security

The JCSA uses a French drug lab to conduct testing on its races. Saudi officials made no mention of any test results performed on Maximum Security.

Servis entered a not guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit drug adulteration and misbranding on his horses, most notably his prize thoroughbred, Maximum Security. The charges allege Servis used a substance called SGF-1000 on Maximum Security before the horse won the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park last July. New Jersey racing authorities pulled an out-of-competition sample from the horse, but did not find anything illegal in the sample.

SGF-1000 is a performance-enhancing drug that claims to improve tissue repair and increase stamina through “growth factors.” The drug is a compound made at an unnamed Kentucky facility, and Servis was told there is no test for SGF-1000.

The horse’s owner, Gary West, denied any knowledge of illegal substances given to Maximum Security. He moved the horse to Bob Baffert’s barn after the March 9 indictment was announced.

Owner Agrees With Investigation

West e-mailed a statement to reporters saying “I agree it is appropriate for them to conduct their own investigation.”

Meanwhile, the US District Court issued bail constraints against Servis and fellow trainer Jorge Navarro, the two highest-profile defendants in the doping scandal. Both posted $200,000 bonds and surrendered all travel documents.

The next hearing in the case is June 30.