By T. D. Thornton
Kristian Rhein, a veterinarian formerly based at Belmont Park whom federal prosecutors allegedly have on tape bragging that he sold “assloads” of the illegal performance-enhancing drug SGF-1000, has been granted an Aug. 3 change-of-plea hearing at which he is expected to alter his initial “not guilty” plea in the highly publicized racehorse doping scandal.
Rhein was allegedly part of a “widespread, corrupt scheme” dating to at least 2017 that allegedly involved the now-barred trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, plus a vast network of co-conspirators who allegedly manufactured, mislabeled, rebranded, distributed and administered performance- enhancing drugs to racehorses all across America and in international races.
Rhein's desire to change his plea comes just days after co-defendant Michael Kegley Jr. entered a guilty plea to one count of drug adulteration and misbranding July 23 in United States District Court (Southern District of New York) as part of a plea bargain agreement. Kegley will be sentenced Nov. 22.
Kegley told a federal judge last Friday that, “Beginning in 2016, I was an independent contractor for a company, MediVet Equine. We sold a variety of products, including SGF-1000. I sold these products to veterinarians, horse trainers. When I did that I knew there was no medical prescription for those products. Also at the time, I knew that the product was not manufactured in an FDA approved facility, nor was it approved for sale by the FDA.”
According to the initial March 2020 indictment, Rhein was one of those veterinarians to whom Kegley routinely sold SGF-1000.
SGF-1000, according to the indictment, was allegedly a drug of choice administered to racehorses trained by Servis, including to the disqualified 2019 GI Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security.
According to the indictment, on June 5, 2019, Maximum Security was subjected to out-of-competition drug testing. This was allegedly a short time after the colt had received a shot of SGF-1000. Servis called Rhein out of concerns the colt might test positive.
“They don't even have a test for it in America,” Rhein allegedly told Servis during a wiretapped conversation, adding that the presence of SGF-1000 could, however, return a false positive for “Dex.”
The indictment stated that later that same day, Servis received a promise from another veterinarian who agreed to falsify records to make it appear that Maximum Security was treated with “Dex” and not the illegal SGF-1000.
On July 16, 2019, on another recorded phone call, Rhein and Kegley allegedly discussed how Servis and his associates are “buying literally as much” SGF-1000 as Rhein was able to source from Kegley's firm.
The indictment stated that “Rhein bragged that he was selling 'assloads' of SGF-1000.”