The Doping of X Y Jet

March 10, 2020

One of Jorge Navarro’s most successful horses was an 8-year-old gelding, X Y Jet. When Navarro announced in January this year that the grey/roan had died, the racing world was shocked, saddened and suspicious. 

X Y Jet had always been a game runner. He started under trainer Antonio Sano for owner Gelfenstein Farm running mostly in Florida at Gulfstream, Gulfstream Park West and Tampa Bay with the occasional trip to Monmouth and Laurel Park. In his 2-year-old year he had seven starts with one win, four seconds and one third with earnings of $73,783, Equibase Speed Figures (ESF) in the high 90s. X Y Jet would run his last race for Antonio Sano November 27. He would move to the barn of Jorge Navarro to be saddled for the Pasco Stakes (Black Type) on December 29, 2014 at Tampa Bay placing second.

In 2015, under Navarro, X Y Jet would double his earning in five starts hitting the board four times boosting his speed to three figures as high as 122. Unfortunately, a knee chip that required surgery would take him off the track from March until September. Upon returning, X Y Jet won an allowance optional claiming race at Monmouth followed by another win under the same conditions at Gulfstream and a third consecutive win earning his first graded stakes win in the Mr. Prospector Stakes G3.

In February 2016, Rockingham Ranch would partner with Gelfenstein Farm as majority owner. As a 4-year-old his prize money would spike to $586,470 by hitting the board four times in five starts with a blistering ESF high of 123. He ran in all stakes races, four being graded stakes, one the Dubai Golden Shaheen G1 at Meydan on March 26 where he placed second. 

The week after, Navarro announced X Y Jet would be sidelined with a knee chip in the same area as the previous year for which he went under the knife. After quarantine in Chicago he would head to Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky and prepare for his surgery at Rood and Riddle. The feisty gelding would return to the track October 1 in the Vosburgh Stakes G1 at Belmont where he came in fifth. November 19, X Y Jet would place third in the De Francis Dash G3 at Laurel Park to round out the year.

With more knee problems and another surgery, the fleet-footed son of Kantharos made only one start in December 2017, winning the Mr. Prospector Stakes G3 by 9 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream. 

A 6-year-old X Y Jet would be back with four starts in 2018, winning two black type stakes, one G3 stakes and, again, placing second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen G1 at Meydan earning $698,610 for the year.

Starting 2019 with a fourth place in the Sunshine Million (black type) January 19, X Y Jet followed up with a win by 7 1/4 lengths in an allowance optional claiming race February 13. But here comes the ugly part. In court documents obtained by Past The Wire, Federal officials have evidence that Navarro had been using illegal drugs on X Y Jet. 

The indictment states on or about February 9, Navarro and Marcos Zulueta, a supplier listed on the indictment, had a telephone conversation in which they discussed Navarro’s need for a particular custom analgesic PED, referred to as “blocker,” Navarro specified the PED was for X Y Jet., and Zulueta agreed to supply that PED via overnight shipment. 

As per the indictment Navarro contacted Christopher Oaks, a harness trainer and supplier of the drugs listed in the indictment, and Gregory Skelton, a veterinarian listed in the indictment, on February 10 to obtain more of the “blocker” PED for X Y Jet. Oaks agreed to procure and deliver the “blocker” in advance of the February 13 race. Unhappy with X Y Jet’s February 11 workout, Navarro spoke with Oaks. The two discussed a plan to sneak the illegal drug into X Y Jet’s barn and deliver it to Navarro before the race day. Navarro told Zulueta on race day to go to X Y Jet’s stall and administer the PED. Zulueta was told to lie if necessary to get access to the racehorse. 

Custom analgesics referred to as “joint blockers” or “blockers” mask physical injury which can cause a horse to overexert during a workout or a race resulting in a career- or life-ending injury. 

March 30, 2019, X Y Jet was back at Meydan where he finally won the Dubai Golden Shaheen G1 and $1.5 million purse. But before he ran, Navarro was up to nefarious business. Around March 22 while in Dubai, according to the indictment Navarro personally administered various adulterated and misbranded PEDs to X Y Jet, including one referred to as “monkey.” 

In an incriminating phone call on April 3, 2019, Navarro told Zulueta he had administered the PEDs in the weeks leading up to, and on the day of the race, in Dubai. “I gave it to him through 50 injections. I gave it to him through the mouth,” Navarro told Zulueta. 

Photo from the indictment showing vials of drugs


“Monkey” is the illicit version of Erythropoietin, used to boost a racehorse’s red blood cell count in order to stimulate endurance during a race and improve race recovery. “Blood builders” when used with intense physical exertion, thicken the horse’s blood, thereby causing increased cardiac exertion and pressure, which can lead to cardiac issues or death. 

X Y Jet’s very last start would be on December 21 in the very race that gave him his first graded win, the Mr. Prospector Stakes G3, where he would finish with an unimpressive sixth place. X Y Jet would win his biggest year earnings of $1,537,850 in 2019. 

January 8, 2020 Navarro would announce the just turned 8-year-old gelding was dead of a heart attack. The Florida-bred would end his career and life with a record of 26 starts, 12 wins, 7 seconds, 2 thirds and $3,096,513 in earnings.

Although authorities only have evidence of X Y Jet being doped in 2019, it would not be unreasonable to speculate that he may have been dosed with illicit drugs prior to these event. Based on the properties and side effects of some of the administered PEDs it’s likely they may have even contributed to his death.

Contributing Authors

MB Kalinich

Maribeth Kalinich is a racing enthusiast and historian who writes about current racing events, Thoroughbred history and preservation of historic racing sites. Growing up in...

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