Trainer Beattie At Rojas Trial: ‘Almost Everybody’ Illegally Treated Horses On Race Day

by | 06.28.2017 | 10:38am
Stephanie Beattie testified Tuesday at the trial of Murray Rojas in Harrisburg, Pa.

Stephanie Beattie threw fellow horsemen under the bus during her testimony for the prosecution Tuesday afternoon at the federal trial of Murray Rojas, a former rival for leading trainer honors at Penn National in Grantville, Pa.

Beattie admitted she routinely had her horses illegally treated with therapeutic medications on race day by the same veterinarians who counted Rojas as a client.

“Almost everybody did,” Beattie said of the practice. “Ninety-five to 98%. It was a known practice. We wanted to win and they weren't testing for those drugs at that time.”

Beattie, 46, won enough races to be Penn National's leading trainer on three occasions. In 2009, her best year, she won 222 races from 811 starts for earnings of $3.4 million. The previous year, when she won 212 races from 612 starts, she had a win percentage of 35 percent.

But it is two-time Penn National leading trainer Rojas, not Beattie, who is on trial for wire fraud, conspiracy and misbranding of prescription drugs. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Behe has laid out a case with testimony and documents from racing officials, veterinarians and vet assistants alleging Rojas requested and received race-day treatment of horses in order to win purse money, then had billing and treatment records falsified to conceal the cheating.


Beattie is among numerous individuals at Penn National under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She resisted cooperating with the FBI at first, Beattie testified, even after Special Agent Bruce Doupe told her, “If you don't want to talk, I'll come to your house at 4:30 in the morning, handcuff you and put you in jail for a very long time.”

Finally, Beattie said, after spending more than $60,000 on legal advice, she decided to cooperate with authorities, submitting to numerous interviews and even wearing a recording device on their behalf.

Despite admitting to years of rule violations in multiple states, Beattie has not been sanctioned by any racing commissions and has faced no criminal charges. It has hurt her business, as shown by a 2016 record of 14 wins from 111 starts and earnings of $217,655.

“This investigation has made things tough for me,” she said.

Beattie also said she has stopped cheating with race-day treatments.

Beattie explained how veterinarian Kevin Brophy established an order form for trainers to fill out their race day medication requests. She said her lists regularly included Kentucky Red, Estrone and Amicar – substances that are not permitted within 24 hours of a race.

Beattie testified that Brophy and other veterinarians informed her of which drugs the state's testing lab was not testing for.

On Monday, Brophy's associate veterinarian, Fernando Motta, testified that Rojas regularly requested and received treatments of Robinul and Estrone on race day for her horses. Motta beat the test for Robinul, he testified, by administering a lower dose and changing the route of administration to intravenous from intramuscular.

Under cross examination by Robert Goldman, attorney for Rojas, Beattie admitted she never secretly recorded Rojas admitting she had her horses illegally drugged. “There wouldn't be, because we don't talk,” Beattie said.

“You don't like her, do you?” said Goldman, who then revealed that Beattie made fun of Rojas by dressing up like her at a Halloween costume party.

Goldman then recited Beattie's history of medication violations, dating back to her earliest years as a trainer, including a 2005 suspension at Charles Town in West Virginia when officials searched her vehicle and discovered loaded syringes.

Goldman asked: Why did she have injectables? 

Beattie responded: “I was giving medication at Lasix time, like everyone else was.”

Beattie denied under oath that she would have shock wave therapy performed on a horse on race day and then have her veterinarian turn in a false name. She said, however, it was “common practice” for horses shipping in to have received shock wave therapy that same day.

She also said she never directed her jockeys or stable employees to use electrical devices, commonly known as buzzers or batteries, to shock horses both during morning workouts and races, as alleged by her former boyfriend and training partner, David Wells.  Wells pleaded guilty to charges of rigging a race in a deal with federal prosecutors.

“Did I ever ask them to, no,” Beattie said. “Does it happen at every racetrack, yes. But I never told my jockeys to do it.”

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