Kirk Ziadie Banned, Father Ralph Under Scrutiny By Gulfstream Park Officials

by | 09.23.2016 | 8:52am
Ralph Ziadie

Trainer Kirk Ziadie, who is licensed by the state of Florida while his six-year suspension for 21 medication violations is under appeal, has been denied access to any grounds controlled by The Stronach Group, the company's chief operating officer Tim Ritvo said on Thursday.

Ritvo said Ziadie's father, Ralph Ziadie, “has to show proof that he is training the horses, that he is doing business with those clients, that he's paying the payroll and everything else. He has a couple of days to do that. Kirk can't be in the barn any more.”

The Ziadie horses  currently are stabled at Gulfstream Park West, the former Calder Race Course where The Stronach Group leases stalls and will run a live meet Oct. 1-Nov. 30.

Kirk Ziadie, who has not been the trainer of record for any runners in 2016, has a 28 percent career win rate (762 of 2,716 races) dating back to 2002. He also has dozens of medication violations on his record. In 2009, he received a two-year ban from officials at Calder, where he has been the leading trainer.

Ralph Ziadie, a multiple Grade 1-winning trainer, has won 1,450 races from 9,549 starters since 1981, a 15 percent win rate. During the current Gulfstream Park meeting, Ralph Ziadie has been winning at a 34 percent clip (19 of 56 starts).

“We said to Kirk, 'Let's see how your court appeal works out, and good luck,'” Ritvo said. “His father has to have a personal relationship with the owners.”

The move came days after Stronach Group officials told trainers Allan Hunter and Marcus Vitali they would not be allowed to enter horses at Stronach Group tracks that have been running in Hunter's name in recent months. Vitali, currently under suspension, was told in a face-to-face meeting with Gulfstream Park general manager P.J. Campo he is not permitted on the grounds of any of the company's racetracks. Ritvo said he was at Laurel Park on the telephone during the course of that meeting.

The decision to ban Vitali was based on a belief by company officials that Hunter was acting as a program trainer during July and August while Vitali was unlicensed in Florida and his attorney was negotiating with the state's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering for reinstatement. The agreement, reached in late August, allowed Vitali to be relicensed but suspended him for 120 days and fined him $7,000 for multiple medication violations for therapeutic drugs. The suspension began July 1, when Vitali was not licensed, and runs through late October.

Vitali made regular visits to the stable area as a “guest” during July and August. The visits were approved by Gulfstream Park security.

Hunter, according to Ritvo, did not deny being a paper or program trainer for Vitali during that period. Hunter was told he may be permitted to enter horses in the future if he develops his own stable.

“They won't be the Vitali horses,” said Ritvo. Hunter was given 10 days to either remove the former Vitali horses from Gulfstream Park or have them distributed to other trainers, Ritvo said.


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