In addition to a possible federal prison sentence, former trainer Jorge Navarro may be deported as a result of his guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit drug adulteration and misbranding. Navarro is one of the most publicly-known defendants in the 2020 federal indictments of trainers, veterinarians, and drug makers in what prosecutors say was a wide-ranging network of people working together to dope racehorses.
Navarro entered his guilty plea to the charge in August and will be sentenced Dec. 17. He may be ordered to serve as much as five years in federal prison.
On Dec. 3, Navarro’s defense attorneys filed their pre-sentencing report, accompanied by 100 pages of character references from family, friends, and racing connections. The report indicated that although Navarro legally immigrated to the United States from Panama some 35 years ago, he faces “almost certain deportation to a country where he has almost no familial, social, or economic ties.”
Due to his immigration status, his attorneys say Navarro will likely not be permitted to serve a federal prison term in a minimum-security facility, which means he may be sent to a prison out of state, far from his home and family. At the conclusion of his sentence, he may be transferred into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and sent to one of their prisons ahead of deportation.
“Jorge recognizes that his conduct in this case calls into question his care for his horses, but those that know him as a horseman and trainer recognize his genuine love and devotion to his horses,” read the defense report. “At this juncture, having been absent from horse racing for almost two years, Jorge realizes the errors of his ways and is contrite, remorseful, and wishes he could roll back the hands of time.”
A number of former racing connections of Navarro wrote character references on his behalf, including former employees, owners, horse transporters, jockeys, and feed suppliers. Supportive former owners include Ron Hendrickson, Joseph Casciato, Jason Provenzano, Frank Rupolo, Dennis Amaty, and others. Jockeys Jose Ferrer, Isaac Castillo and Manny Jiminez, as well as former jockey Rene Douglas also wrote on behalf of Navarro.
For several letter writers, Navarro’s relationship with X Y Jet seemed to stand out.
“Because of his delicate knee conditions, the horse stayed in Ocala for a few months of the year every year to rest and rehab,” wrote veterinarian Dr. Joel Lugo of Ocala Equine Hospital, who noted the horse had two knee operations in 2015 and 2017. “We never discussed the use of any illegal or unethical treatment with him or with any of the other horses. The horse return [sic] to race when we though [sic] the horse was healthy and ready. There was never any pressure from Navarro or the owners. We even discussed his retirement on multiple occasions.”
“That horse loved Jorge; I mean I never seen anything like it,” wrote Navarro’s mother-in-law, Cindy Harries. “That horse was mean with everyone and not easy to deal with. That horse was such a diva. Jorge would just stand there and X Y Jet would pin his ears flat against his head and come at Jorge who never twitched, and he would just stop and let Jorge pet him and kiss him on the nose. When X Y Jet died walking in the shed row after a routine gallop, a part of Jorge died too.”
X Y Jet was among the horses specifically named in the federal indictment as having been doped by Navarro, who admitted he gave the horse a blood builder before an allowance optional claiming race on Feb. 13, 2019, at Gulfstream Park and the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.
The prosecution’s sentencing report is due to the court Dec. 10.
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