Horse Trainer Pleads Guilty to Multi-State Racehorse Doping Scheme

Horse Trainer Pleads Guilty to Multi-State Racehorse Doping Scheme Jockey's riding horses in a race. Prosecutors alleged that New York Veterinarian Kristian Rhein had also helped in the doping of a horse named Maximum Security at a race in New Jersey in 2019, according to reports. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Wednesday, 11 August 2021 10:30 PM

Racehorse trainer Jorge Navarro pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Manhattan federal court to charges that he and others conspired to dope horses with performance enhancing drugs to help them win races, collecting millions in profit from tracks in the United States and around the world, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced in a press release.

According to the release, Navarro, New York Veterinarian Kristian Rhein, and several other trainers and veterinarians took part in distributing “adulterated and misbranded” drugs to give horses they had interests in performance enhancing drugs, banned in the sport, to help them win races and gain prize money.

“Kristian Rhein and Jorge Navarro represent the supply side and the customer side of the market in performance enhancing substances that have corrupted much of the horse racing industry,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. “As he admitted today, Navarro, a licensed trainer and the purported ‘winner’ of major races across the world, was in fact a reckless fraudster whose veneer of success relied on the systematic abuse of the animals under his control.”

“Rhein previously admitted that he flouted his oath as a veterinarian to protect the animals under his care, choosing instead to pursue money through the sale and administration of unregulated substances used by trainers engaged in fraud and animal abuse. These latest convictions demonstrate the continued commitment of this office and our partners at the FBI to the investigation and prosecution of corruption, fraud, and endangerment at every level of the horse racing industry.”

The scheme involved misbranding and distributing drugs that would increase the endurance of the horse and give it an unfair advantage in the race.

The group took prize money from tracks in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, and the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”), all to the detriment and risk of the health and well-being of the racehorses.

As a result of Navarro’s plea, he will pay restitution in the amount of $25,860,514 in winnings from the doped horses.

He will be sentenced in federal court on Dec. 17 by Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil.

Rhein pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme on Aug. 3 and will have to pay restitution in the amount of $729,716 for fraud in his billing practices associated with the scheme, the release said.

He will be sentenced by Judge Vyskocil on Dec. 2.

A total of 13 people are charged in the case, the DOJ said.

Related Stories: