Moving On: Getting Back to Business at Tampa Bay Downs

by | 01.31.2014 | 9:02am

This game can surprise you.

It was just over four months ago that Thoroughbred owner Reid Nagle – who took out his trainer's license in 2010 after leaving active management of a highly successful financial information company he'd founded two decades earlier – wrote an open letter, published on the Paulick Report, urging horsemen and horseplayers to boycott Tampa Bay Downs.

Nagle was critical of the track's general manager, Peter Berube, for his lack of response to an incident in January when a horse trained by Jane Cibelli was treated with a blocking agent on its leg the morning it was to race. “What owner or trainer wants to compete with someone who is cheating, apparently with the tacit endorsement of management?” Nagle wrote last September.

Within a week, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering suspended Cibelli 60 days (her veterinarian, Dr. Orlando Paraliticci, had previously received a 90-day suspension), and Tampa Bay Downs said it would not accept entries from her for the entirety of its 2013-14 race meeting.

Cibelli served her suspension and shifted her base to Florida's East Coast for the winter. Stabling at a private training center and racing without incident at Gulfstream Park, Cibelli has won with three of 27 starters during the current meet, with six seconds and four thirds.

One horse that didn't run very well was a 3-year-old filly named Shindig In the City, who finished seventh in a maiden claiming race on the turf Jan. 23. When the daughter of Indygo Shiner returned to be unsaddled, she had a new owner and trainer: Reid Nagle.

It did seem strange to some that Nagle would claim a horse off the trainer he so roundly criticized only a few months earlier, but he has his reasons, which he outlined in a private email.

Nagle also decided to continue racing at Tampa Bay Downs, something he wrote in September he wouldn't do. (He's won one race this meeting, with one second from eight starts.) The reason for the turnabout, Nagle said, was the manner in which Berube and Tampa Bay Downs finally handled the Cibelli matter, and the fact they similarly banned trainer Jorge Navarro for the entire meeting after he was suspended for multiple medication violations.

Does it make Nagle a hypocrite that he claimed a horse off someone he intimated was a cheater or is racing at a track he said he would avoid? I don't think so. In fact, I think it says more about Cibelli and Tampa Bay Downs management, that they have put this matter behind them and are moving in a positive direction.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the general manager of Tampa Bay Downs. Peter Berube is the Tampa Bay Downs GM. His father, retired Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau president Paul Berube, is not affiliated with the track.

  • GC

    It doesn’t make him hypocritical. It makes him disingenuous.

  • Sal Carcia

    I feared that Gulfstream was going to be a dumping ground for the ex-Tampa supertrainers. It has happened as I feared. The super powers of these trainers does seem to be somewhat muted in the current meet. Hopefully, the Gulfstream management is keeping a close watch on it.

    • fb0252

      Nagle was on the back stretch. Surely he would have had info about wide spread illegal performance enhancement that he would have reported The only complaint I recall was the single heel nerving incident.

  • Know Jane

    Pete Berube is the Vice President and General Manager of Tampa Bay Downs. His father, Paul Berube was the former President of the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau. Paul retired in 2005.

  • Amy Stevens

    I was at Gulfstream Wednesday and saw a Jane Cibelli trained horse that was a standout by physical looks in the paddock and I believe if memory serves finished second. I can see why a trainer might want to claim her horses if they look as good as this one did.

  • betterthannothing

    Nothing has changed. Abusive cheaters don’t change, they only lay low for as long as they need to. Horses need to be protected in their stalls and wherever they go and all substances and painkilling treatments need to be tightly controlled and administered under surveillance cameras and only to improve the short and long term health and welfare of horses. The USADA and a complementary agency solely devoted to protect the welfare and safety of race horses are badly needed as well.

    • fb0252

      good point! stall cameras are next. both for owners to keep an eye on their horses, and to weed out bad apples. there needs to be a consensus formed as to what constitutes protecting welfare and safety of race horses. my opinion has been that minimum training standards need significant codified upgrades. Why is e.g. a horse permitted to race off one or two short breezes considering the risks involved?

  • morethanready

    Nagle would’ve been a hypocrite if nothing changed but he has helped initiate major change. Cibelli’s numbers have been poor since this story broke but Navarro’s still 40% since he got his two months. He had one break down at the wire just two weeks ago. I’d never claim from him(you might not make it back to the barn) but she looks like somebody might be able to improve upon now.

    • fb0252

      unsure that we should consider a 50% in the money % as “poor”.

      • coach

        her win % since the vet was exposed is about 10, down over 100%

  • LongTimeEconomist

    Maybe he just feels he can move the horse up.

    • Old Timer

      100% agreement.

    • Guest

      im SURE Reid Nagle can move the horse up ,when the price is right!

  • Tinky

    Does the claim make Nagle a hypocrite? Absolutely not.

    Which airline do you imagine is the safest to fly in the months following a crash?

  • The Whiz

    Lotsa of shortsighted ,opionated folks on here that don’t know which end of a horse S**Ts and which end eats…mostly a bunch of disgruntled bettors with an axe to grind. I don’t like cheating either and I believe that track could and should do a better job of knowing what’s going happening on the backsides of thier racetracks BUT.. that would meah the GM and or the racing secretary wouldactually have to get up early and go to the barn area and let the folks back there know that there is a presence to be wary and aware of …a little intimidation goes a long away toward keeping “most” people honest. Think about It !!!!!

  • I doubt very much that he would have claimed a horse for any other reason than that it was a legitimate claim.

    This isn’t a case of organized, vindictive claiming, which, according to William Murray, the West Coast establishment orchestrated against Bobby Frankel, decades ago.

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that the owner of the claimed horse needed the money. If so, why should he have been deprived of it because Cibelli – WHO IS THE ORIGINAL AND ONLY wrong-doer in the context of this article – happened to be the trainer of the horse?

    On the other hand, the man certainly can go anywhere in the world that he pleases to claim horses, if necessary. It’s difficult to see why the stock at Tampering With The Bays Downs would interest him.

    I guess beauty is in the eye of the beclaimer.

  • HunterD

    It’s all a joke. Look at Judge Lew today at Tampa. enough said.

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