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$20 million Saudi Cup purse money withheld due to doping investigation involving trainer Servis

By Mark Hansel
KyForward managing editor

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) announced Monday it will withhold purse money from the $20 million Saudi Cup, pending the results of an internal investigation.

Maximum Security, owned by Gary and Mary West, and trained by Jason Servis, won the inaugural Saudi Cup on Feb. 29, at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh.

Jason Servis (center) trained Maximum Security to a win in the $20 million Saudi Cup in February. Monday, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia announced it is withholding purse money from the race following the March indictment of Servis on doping charges (photo by Mark Hansel).

The winner’s share of the purse was $10 million.

On March 9, Servis was indictedin federal court on doping charges.

Maximum Security was among the horses trained by Servis named in the doping investigation, which prompted the JCSA investigation.

Trainer Jorge Navarro was also indicted as were 25 others, including veterinarians and other trainers alleged to be involved in the doping scandal.

The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia released the following statement regarding the decision:

“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.

Maximum Security (pink silks) is shown crossing the finish line ahead of the field in the 145th Kentucky Derby. He was later disqualified and placed 17th for interference. Purse money from his victory in the Feb. 29, Saudi Cup is now being withheld by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, following doping charges filed in a U.S. federal court against his trainer, Jason Servis (photo by Mark Hansel).

“Due to difficult operational circumstances caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic, the investigation has not yet concluded. JCSA will issue no further statement until such time as the investigation is completed to our satisfaction.”

Maximum Security has been exemplary on the race track, but his career had been marred by controversy.

The horse crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified and placed 17th after stewards ruled interference with several horses.

Maximum Security rebounded strongly with three wins in four subsequent starts, including victories in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth and the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, both Grade 1 races.

He was named the Eclipse Award Three-Year-Old Male Champion in January and has eight wins and one second from 10 starts, including the Saudi Cup.

The impact on the Saudi Cup purse distribution will not be determined until after the investigation is complete.

Midnight Bisou, who was named the Eclipse Award Champion Older Dirt Female, finished second in the Saudi Cup, followed by Benbatl and Mucho Gusto.

Contact KyForward at news@kyforward.com

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