Trainer Martin Wolfson Ruled Off At Gulfstream Park Over Financial Responsibility Issues

by | 02.14.2018 | 4:40pm
Trainer Martin Wolfson

Martin Wolfson, a longtime leading trainer in South Florida who won the 2006 Breeders' Cup Mile with Miesque's Approval, has been ruled off Gulfstream Park property because of financial responsibility issues.

According to Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group that owns Gulfstream Park, horses have been removed from Wolfson's barn because his workers' compensation policies had expired and staff and vendors were owed money. Wolfson was told to get his financial affairs in order before he would be allowed to return, Ritvo said.

Daily Racing Form reported that seven horses previously in Wolfson's care have been transferred to trainer Danny Gargan at Palm Meadows.

Wolfson, 66, is the son of the late Harbor View Farm owner Louis Wolfson, who with wife Patrice bred and owned Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Wolfson took out his trainer's license in 1970 at the age of 18 and has accumulated 1,682 wins from 9,059 starts. His best year was in 2009, when he won 67 races from 275 starts and horses he saddled earned $4.3 million. Among his numerous stakes winners were Grade 1 winners Miesque's Approval, Chaposa Springs, Pampered Princess, Pomeroy, Icon Project, Jessica Is Back, Ask the Moon, Starship Truffles and Swagger Jack.

Wolfson's numbers dipped in recent years, with 2017 (12 wins from 70 starts and $677,875 in earnings) representing his least productive year since 1991.

Wolfson has had no winners from six runners this year, most recently starting a horse on Jan. 20 at Gulfstream.

  • Steve Viuker

    Daily Racing Form reported that seven horses previously in Wolfson’s care have been transferred to trainer Danny Gargan at Palm Meadows.

    a good choice to transfer his horses to Gargan-

    from DRF- Trainers Danny Gargan and Dennis Lalman were both issued suspensions and fines by the New York Gaming Commission for medication violations.

    • Joakim Muth

      Then the horses can stay on the same medication program Wolfson had them on.

      • Doug Bennett

        I’m guessing an avg. Beyer jump of 5-7 points when Gargan runs them next. Horse whisperer par excellence.

        • gus stewart

          Would u be implying that if you have the money to pay the vet extra to give your horses the legal medications that mr wolfson maybe couldn’t currently afford the improvement will follow?. Or is mr gargan just a better trainer then a guy who has been doing it for 30 plus yrs

          • Doug Bennett

            I was implying that Gargan currently has access to better cheating methods than Wolfson, as evidenced by Gargan’s improving win rate (2018 = 33%, 2017 = near 25%) and Wolfson’s declining one.

          • gus stewart

            Lol i thought that was what u meant. And yep i agree with u. Isn’t it terrible that the remaining players and dwindling in numbers fans every year know this as facts. Can u imagine currently for the last ten to 15 years any other sport would just allow this perception to continue without addressing it asap. Sports fans are forgiving because major media has the venue and air time to help smooth it over until fixed. Not in horse racing so how again do u expect new fans or owners to get involved. Here in calif its gotten better but it goes in cycles until another private vet finds the new stuff.

      • Terri Z

        Wolfson has a good reputation as a trainer in South Florida. Horses don’t go from his barn down to the slaughterhouse pipeline. He and his wife work hard to rehome horses retiring from the track.

    • brussellky

      You are so skilled at taking things out of context you should be in politics if you are not already. Gargan got a 7 day suspension for one Bute overage, a legal medication.

  • Larry Ensor

    Sorry to see this in “print” should have been a private matter. Tough business, most, the majority have no idea how tough it is. Plenty have been in his position in the past but their dirty laundry wasn’t aired to the public. Plenty more will be in the future.

    • johnnyknj

      Yes, sad to see. Marty doesn’t deserve this, particularly as many reading it have no knowledge of his success as a trainer or his personal story and struggles.

    • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

      I read this comment about Jack Van Berg (someone else wrote it), your private matter comment reminded me of this:

      A little known story about Jack shows just the kind of person he was. When in Hot Springs one year, his grooms found a herd of starving Thoroughbreds in a secluded pasture while they were trail riding. They told Jack about it when they came back to the track and said they intended to report it to the stewards. Jack said to them, “No. That man’s having a hard enough time and you don’t need to add to it by turning him in to the stewards.”

      I don’t know that much about Wolfson, but I hope he gets through this

      • Joel S.

        That man may have been having a hard time, but he probably wasn’t starving. I would have put the horses’ lives above the potential problems their owner may encounter.

        • Billy Johnston

          FOR SURE – it’s inhuman to think otherwise!

        • BBFan

          Exactly

      • Marlon

        How is that defending him? Yes, they should have reported it. Letting the horses starve? Hope he and the other guy will loose their licenses.

        • Erin Casseday

          Mr. Van Berg passed away not to long ago.

      • Erin Casseday

        Sorry, Jack, wrong answer. Horses welfare should always come first. Now, maybe Jack did do something to help that person. At least I hope someone came forward to at least get the horses some food.

        • Billy Johnston

          ABSOLUTELY ERIN!

        • Mary Jo

          My thought as well! What about responsibility to take care of the horses!

        • DeniseSteffanus

          How dare you turn this wonderful story against Jack Van Berg. I’m the one who related it, and Jack’s former groom told me. Knowing Jack, I’m sure he investigated and kept the information confidential. Horses — and all animals — were’s Jack’s first concern. He would have had someone watched over the situation to ensure those horses were cared for, even after he left Hot Springs.

          I dedicated my Eclipse Award last month to Jack Van Berg, the finest gentleman ever to set foot on the racetrack.

          • BBFan

            How dare you defend a group of TBs being starved? Chances are the person responsible did it
            AGAIN, somewhere else. There is always some racetracker protesting common sense

          • Its the 35% that hate and find fault in everthing

          • BBFan

            So, putting the interests of starving horses above some person who cannot make ends meet in the biz is now hatred … “oh, we LOVE our horses…!”
            Yea. It shows.

          • Had you read the article you would know that jack out of his own pocket feed and had his crew take care of them as soon as he found out ….know you subject before you spew

          • Erin Casseday

            What article? There was no link in the above post to any article. If Jack helped those horses then the original poster should have stated that.

          • You need to keep in mind the original post was a troll. Writen with only part of the story. The comment had nothing to do with the guy that was ruled off. I think it was to infer that mr wolfson was not feeding his horses. Bringing up jack was just a ploy to garner attention and in some way substanuate its goal and had no real revelance to the topic at hand
            The original story in full was on PR a couple weeks ago
            Anyway thats my view of it

          • Erin Casseday

            I didn’t. But, one does not turn a blind eye to starving horses. Now, as I stated in my previous post, maybe Mr. Van Berg helped out privately. The original poster doesn’t state anything about that. But, also, maybe the person that was starving those horses was a habitual abuser that needed to be reported.

            Again, as I stated, horses welfare should always come first.

          • CLOWNSKILL

            Humblebrag

          • McGov

            Hahahaha. Putting that one in the toolbox lol.

          • CLOWNSKILL

            From the Urban Dictionary: “When you, usually consciously, try to get away with bragging about yourself by couching it in a phony show of humility.”

          • McGov

            Brilliant. I love it. There are soooo many times I was looking for that word…just didn’t know it existed. But NOW I do hahaha ;)

          • slvrblltday

            Sounds like Jack knew of the man’s situation yet the horses were still starving, so not sure how to conclude with any confidence he was “ensuring they we’re cared for.”
            Erin’s comment might be tough to hear but it right on. We can still appreciate Jack as a man who was very caring.

        • Lefty_Orioles_Fan

          Now, maybe Jack did do something to help that person
          That was my impression from the person originally making the comment

      • greatform4

        Sorry- I think that doesn’t say anything good about the Thoroughbred business- in fact it just reinforces the “good old boys club” mentality. People who starve horses deserve the worst penalties that can be enforced! Even if Mr. Van Berg helped out once, it certainly doesn’t mean that the person who starved them once wouldn’t do it again.

    • Elle D

      Is anything a “private matter” anymore? I knew Marty and Carla back when I lived in South Florida and often went back to the barn to visit. A well known Florida trainer who I’m acquainted with was here in Lexington for a past Keeneland sale and caught me up on the goings on down South. Marty’s fall from grace started some time ago. While this is not a surprise for me, it’s still sad to hear.

    • Peter Scarnati

      A “private matter?” I don’t think so. Bottom line is the man has been ruled off. Just like anyone else who gets ruled off, the gambling public absolutely has the right to know why he was ruled off. It should be no different for Mr. Wolfson as it would be for a guy struggling with just a few horses who has no prior “reputation.” If he didn’t want it to be public information, he should have never let his financial indiscretions go as far as they did.
      I think one thing many, many people either forget or don’t care to realize is that this is a gambling industry, and as such, transparency with those who gamble their money, must be priority one.

      • Larry Ensor

        I hear what you are saying. Don’t disagree if the person has been “ruled off” due to nefarious actions/intent. This was NOT the case here. Your comment come off sanctimonious. Hope you are never in the position to have to say, “brother can you spare a dime”.

        • Peter Scarnati

          And where exactly would you draw this nebulous line of “nefarious actions/intent?”
          Seems to me that it would be perfectly reasonable for a bettor to wonder how desperate one may be to pay off his debts.

          • Magi

            Next thing you know you’ll be wanting an “index of financial comfort” figure printed as part of the form line. A ridiculous statement from you, Peter.

          • Peter Scarnati

            Ridiculous? I think not. If anyone is being ridiculous here I think it is you with your rather snide and bewildering “index of financial comfort” remark aimed at me, as it is Mr. Ensor who seems to be advocating for some sort of an “index of financial comfort.”
            The bottom line is the man was ruled off because of his financial indiscretions. That is quite enough of an “index of financial discomfort” for me or any other bettor who should rightfully know the reason as to why he or anyone else was ruled off.

  • J

    VERY SAD.
    HE MUST HAVE HAD A VERY EXTRAVAGANT LIFESTYLE.
    WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?
    Good Luck Martin.

    • FrazySlew

      670k in purses in 2017. That was probably about 40-50k in winners commissions. Extravagant? Doubt it.

    • longshot

      You wouldn’t believe how fast you can go through money on the race horse business. Im with you, I wish him good luck

    • Terri Z

      The money went to rehome the horses. Marty Wolfson and his wife Carla, took care of horses retiring from their barn.

    • StrideBig

      When it says 670k in purses (10% to the jock, 10% to trainer, the rest to the owner) He then has to pay his employees for the season, the feed company for the season, and the vet if any of the horses in training are his. We also have zero idea if his owners were behind in paying him for the vet and daily rates.

      I’m sure he wasn’t fetching much of a daily rate these days either.

      Not sure where you think extravagance entered into the picture. It’s easy to sit back and go after people when you don’t take in the entire picture…and frankly, we don’t know the entire picture.

  • Monti McNulty

    He can go back to nude modeling

  • garret

    Is this a drug,gambiling,drinking issue for wolfson? Is he getting help?

  • Jake

    Why is this news? I guarantee you 75% of trainers in the US struggle to make ends meet putting in countless hours. Making this public is a eithe a personal vendetta between Ritvo and Wolfson or the Stronache group just has no class.

    • BBFan

      I certainly know of cases where the workman’s comp payments got behind & the trainers were given time to make restitution

    • mike

      Jake you are spot on about the financial reality of training horses. The only thing is I believe the number is closer to 90 %.

      • Jake

        Amen

  • Billy Johnston

    Always had a reputation as a strange dude.
    Nepotism isn’t always healthy for character building. Too much, to easy.
    Yes; Paulick Report is doing the right thing exposing any and all irresponsible scofflaws in a licensed industry, particularly when GAMBLING is involved.
    A disparate person is far more likely to make unsavoury or dishonest decisions.

    • Marty never had it easy.

      There are a lot of “strange dudes” in racing; so what.

      Rarely, if ever, have I met anybody on the backstretch that cared for animals as much as Marty.

  • I don’t know any trainer anywhere that cares for animals more than Marty Wolfson.

    • Terri Z

      Thank you Barry Irwin. He and his wife Carla work hard to rehome horses that are retiring from his barn. I believe he has retirees living on his farm.
      Marty Wolfson is one of the good people in horse racing. How sad is that.

    • Tinky

      Seconded.

    • tristop

      Thanks Barry. We always appreciate your incite, especially regarding trainers.

      • Magi

        Insight.

  • Tony Pie

    Signed up at 18 tossed unto I95 at 66 …. What do you next ?
    Good Luck Marty !

  • Terri Z

    I am so sorry to see this. Marty Wolfson has been one of my favorite local trainers. And he and his wife, Carla, do their best to rehome client’s horses. This is one of the good people in racing. And this is very sad. For one reason or another, he hasn’t had as many horses to train as he has had in the past.

  • Marty became a legend among backstretch denizens at Calder, where for several years he was the top trainer on the grounds. He lives in an upstairs apartment above a barn that housed miniature donkeys raised by his then wife Karla and him. On the backstretch, he was known for the many cats that he maintained and cared for. To say that Marty lived for the welfare and companionship of these felines was putting it rather mildly. To this point, there is a tale that did nothing but add to the legend of Marty, which involved the evening he drove onto the backstretch in disguise because he was temporarily denied access because of a minor medication infraction. Marty risked being ruled off in order to visit his beloved felines. The care that Marty gave his horses was second to none. If the story about Marty underfeeding his horses is true, then he must have been under extraordinary duress, because it does not jibe with the man’s history.

  • OopsyDaisy3

    “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

    Linda in Texas

  • Kevin mcdermott

    Mr Wolfson has given his life to the game some times people go through bad times and lose owners due to the fact that people like mr rivito let the trainers in that have ruined the sport and force good owners to move to drug trainers so they can compete . Instead of posting this maybe they could go do a little out of completion testing. Oh that would involve work

  • Joanne Jones

    He’s just like Nick Hines. Big talkers without the resources to back it up. If Crookson played Bandstand Hal’s picks his bills would be paid.

  • Barrmorr

    As I’m sure many know Lou Wolfson was a corporate raider who served jail time due to some of his business dealings. After his time was served he started one of the most successful racing and breeding operations, Harbor View Farm. Marty has been around horses all his life and cares about them more than most people. His dad came back from his problems to reach the top level of the sport, and while that may not be possible for Marty, I hope at least he can return to the profession that he loves.

  • real fan

    Very unfortunate! It should have remained a private matter, especially considering there are numerous owners who fail to pay their bills but are permitted to continue to race!

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