Saudi Cup prize-money withheld due to criminal charges against winning trainer
The Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia (JCSA) is withholding prize-money for the world's richest race, the $20 million Saudi Cup, due to criminal charges against the winning trainer Jason Servis in the US.
Servis landed the inaugural running of the contest in Riyadh with Maximum Security on February 29 but is one of 27 individuals facing federal charges as part of an alleged widespread doping scheme, following a series of pre-dawn raids by the FBI and prosecutors.
An indictment released last month alleges a designer, performance-enhancing substance was administered to Maximum Security in 2019, when he was named champion three-year-old colt in the US.
"The JCSA is aware that Jason Servis has been indicted in the US on charges relating to the administration of prohibited substances to horses under his care and control," the organisation said.
"The JCSA is conducting its own investigation into the allegations and until that is concluded, will withhold payment of prize-money to all connections of horses placed in prize-winning positions.
"The decision has been communicated privately to connections of Saudi Cup runners. Due to difficult operational circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the investigation is not yet concluded."
Maximum Security, who is co-owned by Coolmore, stayed on strongly to finish three-quarters of a length clear of Midnight Bisou and land the $10m first prize at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.
The fast-finishing runner-up earned $3.5m for her connections but jockey Mike Smith was fined 60 per cent of his share, a staggering $210,000, for using the whip above the permitted level.
Godolphin were set to earn $2m after Benbatl finished third and prize-money was paid down to tenth place, worth $200,000.
The race attracted many of the world's best dirt horses, with ten runners in the 14-strong field having won top-level races. It was the latest in a growing list of high-profile events to be staged in the country.
Organisers argue Saudi Arabia is entering a more open era and are hopeful it can become an established power in the racing world.
Pre-dawn raids and trainer arrests: the US doping scandal on a mass scale
Under a star-filled desert sky on the final day of February, trainer Jason Servis watched on as stable star Maximum Security powered to victory in the $20 million Saudi Cup, the richest horserace in the world, writes Peter Scargill.
It was his crowning achievement as a trainer and, to many, a fitting success after Maximum Security had been stripped of first place in the Kentucky Derby the previous year for causing interference. "It's got to be some vindication," Servis told the assembled media in Riyadh.
Unbeknown to Servis as he posed for photos in the winner's enclosure, back home in America his every move was being closely watched, as it had been for some time.
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