Trainer Jorge Navarro is straight-up garbage, and although his existence in and of itself is detrimental to racing, he does not operate in a vacuum—his enablers are lax State racing jurisdictions as well as the owners who supply him horses to train.
Navarro is no fresh face to the world of drug violations, as he’s been fined and suspended for a litany of Class III, Class IV, and other various medication violations for the better part of seven years, as evidenced by a simple search of his currently expired Florida trainers license.
Earlier this year, one of the horses under his care tested positive for cocaine. Minecraft, a seven year old gelding finished second in a claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs on February 8. Navarro openly challenged the ruling, citing that a cocaine positive is most likely due to contamination of the sample. Navarro was banned from training at Tampa Bay Downs for the 2013-2014 race meet.
On June 17th of this year, another horse in Navarro’s care, George Cross, won the fifth race at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. A post-race drug screen found traceable amounts of cocaine as well as Morphine and Benzoylecgonine in the gelding’s system. In a hearing on October 17, Navarro was fined $2,500 for the violation by the New Jersey Racing Commission.
On October 4 of this year, Navarro was fined $5,000 by the same racing commission and placed on a one-year probation for “conduct that was extremely detrimental to racing” stemming from a YouTube video that showed Monster Racing Stable owner Randal Gindi and Navarro calling the trainer the “Juiceman”—an obvious reference to Navarro’s proclivity of supplying his horses more than hay oats and water, as well as intimating that (at least) Gindi had bet illegally with a “bookie”.
Gindi, who was also fined in New Jersey, is a shining example of the worst kind of owner in the sport—one who openly celebrates horses running with known banned substances on board. It’s these types of owners who exist that will always give trainers like Navarro access to horses to run, at any expense, to the detriment of the horse itself–and racing as a whole. Monmouth stewards wanted to fine both parties more money than New Jersey law currently allows.
Although some racing jurisdictions have done the right thing by not allowing potential entries trained by Navarro to race at their tracks, some racing entities (most notably the Stronach Group-owned tracks, including Gulfstream Park) have given Navarro the “green light” to continue racing.
Navarro needs to be suspended—and for a long time. His “slaps on the wrist” have seemingly done nothing to curtail his dangerous practices, and his flippant attitude, especially as evidenced by the “Juiceman” video has no room in horse racing. As long as Jorge Navarro has “safe havens” to race, he will continue to be an eyesore for a sport that desperately needs less eyesores.