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After Document Review, Meadowlands Bans 33 Owners/Trainers

Effective Dec. 1, the Meadowlands will ban 33 harness horsemen after evidence and exhibits track officials acquired from the U.S. Attorney's Office revealed the names of trainers and owners who had purchased banned substances from individuals who were charged with manufacturing and selling performance-enhancing drugs. The delay in imposing the ban was put in place in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest because many of the trainers are pointing horses to races run at the Meadowlands during November in which they could meet horses owned by Meadowlands...

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Chris Oakes Sentenced to Three Years

NEW YORK--Standardbred trainer Chris Oakes, who has admitted to supplying Jorge Navarro with performance- enhancing drugs as well as using illegal drugs with his own horses, was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday. In October, Oakes, 57, pled guilty to one count of misbranding and drug adulteration with intent to defraud or deceive. The decision was handed down by Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York before a small audience that included Meadowlands owner Jeff Gural. Under the sentencing...

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Fishman Absent From Court After Wiretaps Reveal Him Bragging About Dubai Sales

Closing arguments were a late scratch Jan. 31 in the horse doping trial of veterinarian Dr. Seth Fishman being held in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. New York U.S. District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil met the lawyers for both sides in the robing room, then called the jury into the courtroom and sent them home. She told the jurors to return to court Tuesday. "There has developed legal issues that need to be dealt with," Vyskocil told the jury of eight women and four men. But Fishman's absence in...

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The Week in Review: Fishman's Defense is Hard to Swallow

Indicted veterinarian Seth Fishman started to tell his story last week, both to a jury and to the Washington Post. Fishman, currently on trial in a federal courtroom in Manhattan for his role in a widespread scheme to dope racehorses, wants you to believe that he is an animal lover who was devoted to working for the benefit and health of the horses he treated. He wants you to believe that the drugs he dispersed were given to help and heal and not to improve performance. "It will be for...

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Feds Want Those Navarro Cheated to Collect $25M Restitution

Federal prosecutors recommended Friday that the barred trainer Jorge Navarro be sentenced to the five-year maximum prison sentence for his admitted role in a years-long horse doping conspiracy, and they want the judge to make him pay $25.8 million in restitution to victims who were cheated out of purse money. "Navarro's aggressive pursuit of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs)--and his eagerness to use racehorses under his care to test the potency of novel PEDs--displayed a particularly callous disregard for the well-being of the horses under his care and control," government attorneys wrote...

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Navarro Wants Variance to Cut Five-Year Max Sentence By 30%

The barred trainer Jorge Navarro, who faces a five-year maximum prison term after pleading guilty in August to one count in a years-long Thoroughbred drugging conspiracy in exchange for having a similar second count against him dismissed, on Friday asked the federal judge who will sentence him Dec. 17 for a variance that could bring the most time he would spend behind bars down to about 3 1/2 years. Navarro, through a sentencing submission report filed by his legal team Dec. 3 in United States District Court (Southern District of...

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Trial Groupings Reset for Defendants in Alleged Doping Conspiracy

In the wake of nine defendants in the alleged nationwide horse-doping conspiracy case having changed their pleas to "guilty" in recent months, a Nov. 4 status hearing reset the trial groupings for the remaining defendants, with those trials all now anticipated to commence in the first half of 2022. Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil of United States District Court (Southern District of New York) also ordered that all remaining motions to suppress evidence that are pending on the docket are to be considered denied, noting that her written opinion on that...

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Harness Trainer Christopher Oakes Pleads Guilty

Disgraced harness trainer Christopher Oakes, who had close ties to Jorge Navarro, changed his plea to guilty Tuesday when appearing before federal judge Mary Kay Vyskocil via teleconference. In doing so, Oakes became the 10th person among the original 27 indicted in March 2020 for their role in a widespread scheme to use performance-enhancing drugs on Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds to enter a guilty plea. Oakes, 57, pled guilty to one count of misbranding and drug adulteration with intent to defraud or deceive and faces up to three years in prison....

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Alleged Doper Oakes the Latest Defendant to Ask for Plea-Change Hearing

Christopher Oakes, a barred Standardbred trainer facing two felony charges in the alleged nationwide horse-doping conspiracy case, could be the ninth among 28 initially indicted defendants to flip his plea to "guilty" after having requested and been granted a plea-change hearing that on Tuesday got set for Oct. 20. According to court documents, Oakes was the subject of two barn searches and numerous wiretapped phone conversations in 2019 in which he allegedly discussed helping the admitted doper Jorge Navarro procure and administer performance-enhancing drugs [PEDs] to be used on Thoroughbreds....

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Doping Trial Likely to Get Pushed into 2022

Prosecutors in the federal case against alleged dopers Jorge Navarro, Jason Servis and 12 other defendants told the judge Friday they had no objection to the granting of yet another extension so defense attorneys can sift through the voluminous amount of evidence against their clients, a move that will likely push back the start of the long-awaited trial until 2022 at the earliest. The May 7 letter from acting United States Attorney Audrey Strauss to U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil was filed fewer than 24 hours after defense attorneys...

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On TDN Writers' Room Podcast, The Crew Discusses Doping Bombshell

The TDN Writer's Room podcast, presented each week by Keeneland, pulled no punches as the writers covered all aspects of the indictments for horse doping of 27 people announced Monday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. The dialogue included a combination of passion, anger and bewilderment on a story that has rocked the industry. "The big shock is not the scandal itself. The big shock is not that these guys were drugging horses and cheating," said Joe Bianca who kicked off the News of...

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Cox Refuses to Take Rockingham Ranch Horses

Following a tweet from Rockingham Ranch owner Gary Hartunian that he was sending the horses he had with Jorge Navarro to trainer Brad Cox, Cox told the TDN that he would not be accepting the horses. "It's not true," Cox said of Hartunians's tweet. "After everything that has been going on the last day and a half, I don't feel comfortable accepting any of the horses that are involved in this situation." Cox's statement came after Hartunian tweeted the following Tuesday morning: "All of my horses with Jorge are being...

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