Rojas Trial Testimony Outlines Race-Day Drug Use

Rojas Trial Testimony Outlines Race-Day Drug Use
Photo: Chad B. Harmon
Horses leave the starting gate at Penn National Race Course

As documented by the PaulickReport.com, the trial of trainer Murray Rojas in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania is yielding testimony that paints a picture of widespread illegal use of race-day medications at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in recent years.

In a pair of columns this week at PaulickReport.com, Ray Paulick documented that testimony, some of which includes trainer Stephanie Beattie acknowledging that illegal race-day use of therapeutic medications at the track had become routine and trainers knew the testing lab was not checking for those medications.

"Almost everybody did," Beattie said, as reported by PaulickReport.com. "Ninety-five to 98%. It was a known practice. We wanted to win, and they weren't testing for those drugs at that time."

In August 2015, Rojas was charged with a five-count indictment on wire fraud and conspiracy charges related to 11 races in which she had horses entered at Penn National Race Course in early 2013. The races in question were from Jan. 19-Feb. 16. 

Trainer Rojas Faces Federal Charges

The indictment alleges Rojas directed and conspired with unnamed and unindicted co-conspirator veterinarian(s) to administer substances to horses on the day they were entered to race, in violation of Pennsylvania law, racing rules, and regulations prohibiting the administering of those substances. 

The indictment further alleges that steps were taken to conceal this conduct by backdating invoices for the sale and administration of drugs to the horses on race day, as well as submitting fraudulent veterinarian treatment reports to the Pennsylvania Racing Commission. 

The indictment of Rojas followed the March 2015 indictments of four Penn National-based racetrack vets: Kevin Brophy, Fernando Motta, Christopher Korte, and Renee Nodine on charges related to illegal race-day administration of medications. Those vets entered guilty pleas and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

This week Motta, according to PaulickReport.com, said that Rojas, "basically had a set recipe of medication she wanted to give on race day."

Four Penn National Vets Face Federal Charges

The criminal charges against the vets followed the November 2013 federal indictments of three trainers at Penn National: David Wells, Sam Webb, and Patricia Anne Rogers, as well as clocker Danny Robertson. Wells pled guilty in state court to race-rigging, admitting to numerous race-day medication violations, and as part of his sentence was incarcerated for three months; Rogers' case also was moved to state court where she received 12 months probation and 40 hours of community service. Webb's case was thrown out of federal court; Robertson entered a guilty plea in federal court.

Four Face Federal Charges at Penn National

The Rojas indictment alleges that she obtained winnings totaling $52,360 from the 11 races in which it is alleged she directed the administration of prohibited substances to her horses. 

PaulickReport.com reports that part of Rojas' defense is to say that the practice of administering medications on race day, which other than Lasix is prohibited, was routine at Penn National, and thus she did not have an advantage over rivals.

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