Former trainer Jorge Navarro was sentenced the maximum five years in federal prison Friday by federal judge Mary Kay Vyskocil. Navarro must also pay over $26 million in restitution for his crimes, reflecting the amount won through his cheating.
Navarro will begin to serve his sentence in February according to a report from David Grening of the Daily Racing Form, who first reported the sentencing news.
Navarro was arrested in March of 2020 as part of a larger federal bust of an alleged doping conspiracy. The case also embroiled fellow trainer Jason Servis, who has continued to fight his charges.
“Structures designed for the protection of the horses abused in this case failed repeatedly; fixtures of the industry – owners, veterinarians, and trainers – flouted rules and disregarded their animals’ health while hypocritically incanting a love for the horses under their control and ostensible protection,” U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a release from the Department of Justice. “Standing as the keystone for this structure of abuse, corruption, and duplicity was Jorge Navarro, a trainer who treated his animals as expendable commodities.”
Navarro pled guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit drug adulteration and misbranding. in August. The five-year sentence is the maximum for the charge.
Earlier this month, Navarro’s legal team filed a sentencing report that noted he could face deportation to Panama following his prison sentence. The filing also included letters from his friends and family, claiming that he cared deeply about his horses.
The prosecution later filed a response ahead of Friday’s sentencing, which seemed to eviscerate Navarro’s claims.
“It is not the case that Navarro’s crime was the result of a single lapse in judgment, confined in time and scope,” the prosecution’s report said. “To the contrary, Navarro engaged in repeated and persistent efforts to cheat over the course of years, cycling through various sources of supply, and pursuing aggressively new means to illegally dope horses. Yet Navarro never acknowledged the seriousness of his crimes.”
Throughout the prosecution of Navarro, federal attorneys have specifically mentioned the trainer’s treatment of X Y Jet, who died in January 2020 of what Navarro called a heart attack. Navarro had admitted to injecting the horse with a drug he called “monkey” around 50 times.
The prosecution’s sentencing document said Navarro knew before one race that the horse was tied-up, but ran him anyway, discussing the use of a “blocker” medication and another substance he called “baking soda.”
Navarro was also accused of being extremely blasé when describing his doping program, even keeping a pair of shoes around his barn emblazoned with the nickname “Juice Man.”
“Jorge Navarro’s case reflects failings, greed, and corruption at virtually every level of the world of professional horse racing,” Williams said in his statement. “For money and fame, corrupt trainers went to increasing extremes to dope horses under their care.”