Saudi Cup: $20 Million Prize Money on Hold During Investigation of Winner Maximum Security

By Richard Rosenblatt

Horse Racing Doping: Jason Servis and 27 Others Charged

Maximum Security – Photo Courtesy of Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Doug DeFelice

The owners of Maximum Security, the star-crossed champion who won the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 29, may not collect the $10 million winner’s share of the purse if an investigation determines performance-enhancing drugs were used.

On Monday, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia issued a statement the $20 million purse is being withheld while it is “conducting its own investigation in respect of the allegations.”

Jason Servis, who trains Maximum Security, was one of 27 trainers, veterinarians and others indicted in U.S. federal court on doping-related charges March 9, a little more than a week after Maximum Security held off Midnight Bisou and won the inaugural Saudi Cup.

Until the Jockey Club’s “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,’’ the statement continued.

“This decision has been communicated privately to connections of Saudi Cup runners. Due to difficult operational circumstances caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, the investigation has not yet concluded.

“JCSA will issue no further statement until such time as the investigation is completed to our satisfaction.”

Jason Servis – Photo courtesy of NYRA

On April 2, Servis, along with trainer Jorge Navarro and others, entered a not guilty plea on charges against him of administering illegal substances to racehorses.

Owners Gary and Mary West sold a half-interest in Maximum Security to Coolmore’s Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith before the Saudi Cup.

The top 10 finishers in the world’s richest race won shares of the prize money. Runner-up Midnight Bisou’s was worth $3.5 million, third-place Benbatl’s share was $2 million, fourth-place Mucho Gusto $1.5 million and Tacitus $1 million. Sixth-through-10 place finishers split the remaining $2 million.

Maximum Security finished first in the Kentucky Derby (G1), nearly a year ago, but was disqualified for interference in the stretch and placed 17th. After skipping the next two legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness (G1) and the Belmont Stakes (G1), the Florida Derby (G1) winner returned and finished second in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park.

After some scary health issues, Maximum Security then won the Haskell Invitational (G1), the Bold Ruler (G3) and the Cigar Mile (G1) and was voted the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male. He made a triumphant 4-year-old debut in the Saudi Cup, but since the indictments, the horse has been moved to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s barn.

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