Vitali Case Gives Congressional Horse Caucus Real-Life Example Of Broken System

by | 04.29.2016 | 12:30am
The Congressional Horse Caucus heard from industry executives about the pros and cons of federal legislation creating national oversight of horse racing's medication rules

It's time for the Congressional Horse Caucus members to go on a field trip. May I suggest they take a break today from their hard work at the U.S. Capitol and make the short drive up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to spend an afternoon at Laurel Park in Maryland? They can see first-hand how badly the current structure for regulating medication policies in horse racing is broken.

Members of the Horse Caucus heard on Thursday the same old arguments about why federal legislation to create an independent, non-governmental organization to establish and enforce national medication rules is a good thing – or not, depending on who was testifying. If you want to read about who spoke and what they said, go herehere, here or here. You've probably heard it all before, so I'm not going to regurgitate.

Instead, let me tell you a story about Marcus J. Vitali. He was the third-leading trainer at one of American racing's premier meetings – the Gulfstream Park championship season – this past winter in South Florida.

Vitali, according to MyFloridaLicense.com, has been charged with 23 medication violations since 2011, including nine in 2015 and two so far in 2016.

Vitali is saddling a horse named Hudson Miracle in Laurel Park's fifth race on Friday. He's got another horse in on Saturday and four more at Laurel on Sunday.

How can this be?

Isn't Maryland one of the states that adopted the national uniform medication program? That's the voluntary initiative that the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association say makes federal legislation – in the form of the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015 (H.R. 3084, also known as the Barr-Tonko Bill) – unnecessary. The NUMP, as this acronym-crazed industry likes to call it, is designed to solve the problems created by the patchwork quilt regulatory system that has 32 sets of rules in 32 racing states. The current system was designed long before interstate simulcasting, which now accounts for more than 80 percent of wagering in the United States.

Before he moved his operation to Maryland, Vitali was facing possible consequences in Florida because of the number of alleged medication violations in horses he trained.

Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation and its Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering have the authority to suspend the occupational license of a trainer. Apparently it can't, however, suspend someone who isn't licensed.

Vitali voluntarily relinquished his Florida license before Florida regulators could sanction him for seven alleged medication violations from October 2015 through January 2016. The Maryland Racing Commission has no reason to take action against him or deny him a license because his license has not been suspended in Florida

Trainer Marcus Vitali relinquished his trainer's license in Florida and moved to Maryland

Trainer Marcus Vitali voluntarily relinquished his trainer's license in Florida and moved his stable to Maryland

An April 12 order dismissing the charges in Florida against Vitali reads: “Although the factual allegations contained in the Administrative Complaints, if true, present violations of Section 550.2415, Fla Stat., the Division is unable to prosecute Respondent because he is no longer licensed and the above style cases should therefore be DISMISSED. However, an alert will be placed on Respondent's file and if he is ever to re-apply for licensure in this state the above styled cases shall be re-opened and he shall be held responsible for the allegations contained in these administrative complaints.”

In other words, as long as Vitali doesn't apply for a license in Florida, none of the pending medication charges against him in 2015 and '16 are on his record in any other state. And if he happens to pick up a positive test in Maryland or wherever else he runs horses, it might be treated as a first offense in that jurisdiction.

I don't blame Vitali or his lawyer, Daniel Russell. They are just taking advantage of a deeply flawed system. Russell, with the powerful Jones Walker law firm in Tallahassee, is a former general counsel for Gulfstream Park. His associate, Marc Dunbar, a partner in Jones Walker, currently works for Gulfstream and previously helped convince Florida regulators that barrel races are a legitimate form of pari-mutuel horse racing. Dunbar and his partners in the Gretna “racetrack” are hoping to cash in with the pari-mutuel license they acquired by opening a casino. They know the loopholes in Florida's gambling laws as well as anyone.

I said I wasn't going to regurgitate anything said at Thursday's Congressional Horse Caucus hearing, but this comment by Eric Hamelback, the CEO of the National HBPA, sticks in my craw – especially in light of the Vitali situation. “As this caucus is aware,” Hamelback told lawmakers, “Thoroughbred racing and our industry is one of the most highly regulated industries and sports in the world. The regulation of horse racing is in place at a much more comprehensive level than we see in any other sport today.”

Except in Florida (where, incidentally, Vitali was a member of the HBPA's board of directors until yesterday) … and Maryland … and who knows where else.

A national regulatory structure is desperately needed. The current system is broken. Anyone who says otherwise is delusional.

Correction: There have been 23 medication violation charges against Marcus Vitali since 2011, not 24 as originally reported. There are 32 states with Thoroughbred racing currently, not 38 as originally reported.

  • ben

    Yep, the system is fully broken, even in Europe, when a jock or an trainer has been suspended, he will not be able to set up in another country.

  • youcantmakeitup

    Hamelback is delusional. HBPA is against any legislation anywhere in the country. If they get their way, racing will cease to exist.Even with this bill, it will still be in trouble. Soon, states will start clawing back slot subsidies. It`s coming.

    • Uncle Mo Cat

      Everyone needs a paycheck. You just avert your eyes when you look in the mirror each morning if HPBA signs the check. And to your point about the subsidies. Bingo.

      • Exactly…Eric is a puppet. I don’t think the guy is even a quarter as creepy as his pronouncements make him out to be. If he had been hired by TOBA instead of the HBPA, he would spew their lines instead. He is a political mouthpiece, many of whom are seen hourly on MSNBC, CNN and FAUX NEWS.

  • gls

    Shame on you Maryland, get this dirt bag out. And you have a couple other to boot. Maybe it’s time for the good trainers to boycott the entry box. I thought a license was a privilege, and if you didn’t follow the rules, you lost your privilege. Most importantly is Maryland had to know this problem before they gave him a license. And they were bragging about getting him to stable there. And the HBPA , what a joke.

  • Tinky

    Good reporting, Ray.

  • Racing Fan

    Sal Sinatra really disappointed on this one.

    • johnnyknj

      What possibly makes you think Sal is some kind of leader in the fight to clean up racing?

  • kcbca1

    It’s Friday. I will not get into any debates on this thread concerning the viability of Federal legislation regulating medication in Horse racing. I do appreciate the article though.

  • Smitty

    How about the DRF listing all infractions next to a trainers name in the form. This will also put the owners on the spot they are just as guilty. Let’s start calling them out .thanks

    • we’re watching

      Let’s get serious. Do you think the DRF will do anything close to that, objective reporting of straight facts against trainers. They praise these guys all day and night and would never risk access to them with these facts. But I agree, i would love to see the facts in print.

  • Hamish

    Wasn’t Marcus Vitali Mike Gill’s trainer way back when at Suffolk Downs? Now, he’s one of the top dogs at Gulfstream Park, so I suppose management and the MD racing commission see no problem in permitting him to stable and run in MD. His rules violation record speaks otherwise. Where is the national regulatory “reform” in this situation? Perhaps they’ll keep a special eye on his barn’s activity, just to be sure he’s in good standing.

  • Stunning piece Ray. Florida is where broken down cheating horse trainers go when they have run out of other options. The entire regulatory structure is a mess. Any system that allowed a guy like this to be propped up in order to fill races isn’t worth saving in its current form. It is dragging down the rest of the nation.

    • Here we go

      Barry all of us trainers here in Florida aren’t broke down cheaters…. Ok??!!! There are still hard working trainers down here that love the horses and don’t cheat and the reason some of us are stuck here all year long With no other options is because we have families that can’t move because we aren’t like gypsies…..going track to track.

      • gls

        To all the good trainers, you do have options. Take your sport back. I know its tough and tricky but if nothing gets done all will all be lost. Hold the racing commissions accountable. If they are running gambling they have to run a fair game. If the turn a blind eye then they are just as guilty. Bring in the Fed.

        • The silent majority of trainers in all locales are part of the problem for not calling out the cheaters and having the racing commissions and tracks keep their feet to the fire.

          • jjk

            FYI, Florida does NOT have a racing commission … that I do not understand how when they deregulated that they did not continue having a governing body for the racing industry in Florida ??

      • Where did I write that all of the trainers in Florida are broken down cheaters?

        • greg

          “Florida is where broken down cheating horse trainers go when they have run out of other options.”

          Barry, as you well know I take cheating trainers very seriously, I began playing GP exclusively ~5 years ago after watching it very closely for several years, I have to strongly disagree with your comment (posted above) watching races there everyday I can say that I see 2-3 guys there that I would consider cheaters, and I may be over by 1. When horses that win with regularity that make perfect sense based on PP’s and replays even 20-1 shots it’s not overrun by cheaters, and until I see that changing I will continue to risk my money there. On the note about cheaters, I have spoken to many trainers who all agree that there is way to make it stop, if a trainer gets a drug positive and is suspended then NO HORSE under his/her care at the time of suspension can enter to run under anyone, anywhere. If an owner risks having his horses unable to run for 30-45 days they will make sure to avoid anyone with even a hint of impropriety, would you stable with someone knowing that risk exists?? If not then all horses will go to trainers who are clean. Ask any trainer his thoughts on that and you’ll get 90% agreement.

          • The last time I checked, Gulfstream Park was not the only racetrack in operation in the State of Florida.

          • greg

            Very true

          • Sal Carcia

            I had only one trainer on my list during the last meet at GP and it was not Vitali. The one is pretty obvious. Handicappers watch this closely. Trainers come and go out of these lists. It is not funny though. One supertrainer can spoil the whole meet.

            Last I heard it is not illegal to keep lists like this.

        • Mike Johnson

          How about all owners start giving there horses to trainers that do not have any medication violations

        • Ashley Elliott

          You didn’t; you just said Florida is where is cheaters go.

    • Dusty Nathan

      You’re not that stunned, Barry. ;)

    • ben

      This kind of incidents should be handed out, toward the next destination from the trainer in charge. Any files should go with him.

      This article should handed out to the Maryland commission, and asked for an explanation on their stance.

  • CE Butler

    Doesn’t the infamous Stronach Group own Gulfstream along w/Laurel? Hell, if the same track ownership wouldn’t uphold racing drug laws why expect the Feds to do so. I understand they are letting Kirk Zadie back into the fraternity. This is just one of the reasons that horsing racing is DEAD; no faith that the betting public is getting a fair shake. Perhaps the owners who hire and support these crooks should be banned.

    • Memories of Puchi

      it is the state racing commission that sets and upholds the rules of racing, and also does the testing, and also the licensing. if there is no positive in-state there are no grounds for the track to refuse admission. With MRC vigilant testing and barn security measures, any cheaters will get caught and removed. Mr. Sinatra has already demonstrated that with Vasquez.

      • johnnyknj

        They were under no obligation to give him stalls.

  • GateToWire

    24 medication violations since 2011 isn’t that many. I am sure they are all the result of contamination, or mistakes or a conspiracy to harm Vitali because he wins too much. It’s racing, every trainer is innocent 24/7.
    What’s more amazing is that Vitali actually got caught in the wild west (Florida). I didn’t think anyone was stupid enough to get caught in a place that barely does any testing. Must be a conspiracy to catch him!!!

  • Frank Speaking

    I truly believe that if Frank Stronach’s management team allows him to read this article Mr. Vitale will have seven scratches in the next three days and Maryland will have quite a few available stalls. Few leaders have the passion for medication free racing that Mr Stronach does. Tim Ritvo should do the correct thing and not allow Maryland to be manipulated like this for the good of racing and the honor of Frank Stronach.

    • johnnyknj

      Would that it were so.

    • Hamish

      Frank Stronach was in the press in April 2014 speaking as an industry reform leader. Stronach called for racetrack operators, horsemen, regulators to “come together to do everything we can to prevent any abuse of our Thoroughbred athletes.” and proposed banning “any individuals engaged in fraudulent or harmful activities from participating in the sport.” Hard to believe that Frank personally would give Vitali a pass based on his widely covered remarks from 2014.

    • gls

      I hope you are right, I was just thinking maybe Mr. Stronach is getting his meals through a tube. However it gets worse, I was just on the Laurel site and they’er bragging about R R sending a couple of truck loads of horses down from NY. I hope they know that PA. said it was ok to take entries from Preciado! Someone in Maryland has lost their mind.

    • greg

      While Stronach may feel strongly about drug use as you say, I will say the statement “The honor of Frank Stronach” is laughable, he has no honor, he does nothing that doesn’t benefit him directly (and i’m OK with that) at the expense of anyone else (not ok with that)

  • Peter Scarnati

    “Thoroughbred racing and our industry is one of the most highly regulated industries and sports in the world. The regulation of horse racing is in place at a much more comprehensive level than we see in any other sport today,” says Mr. Hamelback.
    Well sir, since thoroughbred racing would not exist if not for legalized wagering on it, I, for one, would hope it is the most highly regulated sport. It would be nice if those who wish to participate in it would understand this and be openly willing to be regulated accordingly.

    • greg

      It is highly regulated, however the regulations are not enforced, laws are good, not enforcing those laws isn’t

  • Thinker

    Very well said Ray. Now if only people will read this so very accurate article and LISTEN.

  • Mike LaGrossa

    Stronach has to know about Vitali, because he owns Gulfstream also. Maybe he suggested that vitali go to Maryland

    • Hamish

      Wouldn’t you think Frank Stronach relies on persons under him in the Stronach Group hierarchy to deal with trainers like this that leave one Stronach racetrack where they had problems for another Stronach facility in another state?

      • The FHBPA is part of the problem down there. They are all cushy cushy with some of the worst violators.

        • Mastertracker

          Amanda I must say you apparently know very little about the FHBPA board to make that comment.

          • Mr./Mrs. Mastertracker. The fact is, I’ve seen enough of how the FHBPA conducts itself and even some of its own board members to have concerns about its nepotism. There have been some new members elected to the Board. As such, I am hopeful that the new leadership will help educate and guide the membership into greater animal welfare (i.e., less drug use) and better business practices. Nonetheless, the FHBPA is associated with its national chapter which obstructs the efforts of those who seek to have clean racing. We need to stop turning blind eyes toward those amongst us who abuse therapeutic medications; use prohibited substances; and who are otherwise not horsemen, but drug pushers. Put the safety of the horses and riders first, and the FHBPA may just help clean up Florida racing.

    • Just my Opinion

      Mr. Stronach’s level of management doesn’t deal with trainers.

  • Kevin Callinan

    I didn’t think there was anything more blatant than the Vazquez-Garcia shell game until I read this piece. Sal had the fortitude to throw Vazquez out, this guy shouldn’t be let in. Good job Ray.

  • Craig

    The sad thing is every state has these trainers and we (daily racing fan) know it…it’s hard to bet a horse race not knowing what these trainers are giving their horses…this is why the sport is dying or is dead…keep raising the takeout and allow these trainers to move states is basically what the people in charge are saying…how is this good for the game?

  • KevinTCox70

    Those that follow me on twitter at @brooklyncowboy1 know that I have been extremely vocal on this issue for quite some time now. The ONLY way the sport will get out of this mess is to form a National Commission, or even a “Czar”, if you will. Obviously, Corey Johnsen comes to mind, as there’s nary a horseman in the country that questions his integrity. Uniform drug regulations will not only protect the owners, trainers and bettors, but hello—the safety of the jockeys and horses too. In “Eight Men Out” the cheating “Black Sox” were found “not guilty” in a farcical court of law, but Keenesaw Mountain Landis saw through all that, and used his “absolute authority” to get them out of the sport. The same needs to be done here.

    • Kevin, the opposition to the Barr/Tonko bill, which simply authorizes the Feds to appoint USADA to oversee drugs in American racing, can barely stand this tangential involvement from the government, let alone get involved to such an extent that a “Commission” be empowered to do more. They enjoy this Wild West approach where one Marshall at a time can be corrupted, killed or snuffed out.

  • Noelle

    I watched the congressional hearing held after Eight Belles died and thought something good might come of it (albeit the questions/comments by some of the congressmen demonstrated their ignorance of the issues involved). But nothing came of it other than a lot of industry promises and little substantive action. Ok – the steroids ban. But aren’t babies still being dosed with steroids? What followed as far as I saw was a lot of committees, ineffective guidelines, blah, blah, blah.

    I hope things are different this time. I hope the committee members understand that the HBPA is neither benevolent nor protective, and that the THA cannot be comprised of people one would rightly characterize as Horsemen, assuming Horsemen are those who understand and care for horses. These two groups apparently care only for preserving a corrupt system which somehow benefits them but cares nothing for the welfare of the Thoroughbreds on whose backs they make their money.

    As to Vitali – disgusting.

  • Linda Simon

    While uniform drug rules would be ideal the problem is more with the enforcement of the rules . A possitive is a possitive the trainer gets ruled off and fined. Not anymore now they get a lawyer and they are right back cheating again. The preciado and Lake cases are a classic example. This is why racing has lost its fan base they feel that we allow trainers to cheat which makes it too hard to bet our horses anymore.

    • gls

      AMEN,AMEN,AMEN

  • I have to say that I do blame Vitali and his ilk. It is exactly that kind of conduct, abuse of “therapeutic” medications, that cause harm and damage the integrity of the sport. He is not a horseman; he’s a drug pusher.

  • Dusty Nathan

    Here’s another guy with long needles and hoses who is moving to Maryland. No lessons learned – YET – while watching five horse fields and 300 people left in the grandstand? I don’t blame this cheat. I mean, honestly, who wouldn’t rob Fort Knox if there were no penalty? And, maybe he will end up racing against Preciado and Zaidie.

    However, I do recommend to the numbnuts – you know, the folks who are approving his Maryland license – that they start looking for new a career because there won’t be much racing left when decoupling of slot revenues kick in.

    Ray, I was in Maryland for a decade. So I can assure you the irony will haunt these congressmen, as Laurel and Pimlico is full with their patronage regularly. So let these guys watch and wager on horses who have Beyer 46s go in Beyer 72s. In fact, I favor building a new federally owned track on Capitol Hill so at least some of these cheats can get some of their money back from the do-nothing congress.

    • Memories of Puchi

      where are these 5 horse fields? Today 120 horses entered for an average of 12 horses per race (10 races). Saturday 128 horses entered for an average of 11.6 horses per race (11 races). Sunday 116 horses for 11.6 average in 10 races.

      • Dusty Nathan

        They are all over the nation, MOP. Check the entries. I’ve seen a 2-horse field for a $100,000 overnight purse at Parx during the “festival.” I’ll assume you’re writing about Maryland, as you didn’t state where. That’s great. Get back to me in a month when Maryland, Delaware, NJ, NY, PA and WVA are all running at the same time. But this isn’t about field size, is it? It’s about letting cheats race. Again, I’ll assume we are on the same page on the real issue.

        • Memories of Puchi

          Dusty, you are correct that I am referring to Maryland (please pardon the lack of specificity). As you request, we can revisit the question one month from now when racing will be at Pimlico. You probably have read Bill Finley’s article in TDN which states that the Vitali entries are on hold now until the situation is clarified/resolved. It seems that the correct procedures are in place to protect everybody’s due process, and hopefully integrity.

          • Dusty Nathan

            MOP, yes I saw where Maryland stepped up. I commend them. I have no idea why Parx caved in and is allowing its TOP trainer Ramon Preciado to compete after refusing his entries earlier this week. I think integrity needs to be placed before Due Process, as nobody has a right to work in any particular industry – just a right to work. Also, unless a track is state-owned, it is private property. One can certainly sue – after being banished – but a track could out muscle any lawsuit until it reached the Federal Appellate courts and then appeal to SCOTUS. So anyone who believes these repeat offenders and cheats such as Kirk Ziadie have protected their rights are sadly mistaken. I can refuse service (entry) to you, on my property, as long as it is not due to your color, gender, beliefs, religion, etc. So the tracks are not innocent bystanders. These top barns BET a significant amount of money and that is why the tracks and commissions “aquiesse.” The problem, MOP, is they acquiesced when there were 50,000 in the building. Then 25,000, then 5,000, now 500. It seems that at no point do whores turn down business when they aren’t busy.

  • Guest

    Will someone at WHOA or one of the other groups dedicated to the cause please invest in recruiting a top lobbying firm to get the job done, if this has not already been done. Otherwise, please stop whining.

    • Ostrich.

      • Guest

        You’ll let me know when a millimeter of progress is made towards enactment of one of these horse racing integrity bills without serious professional lobbying assistance. You’re the ostrich, if you believe otherwise, Barry.

  • Trackmaster

    The race tracks, ALL OF THEM, must do their due dilligence in ruling offenders off the tracks. The problem children are well known in the game and taking their entries is ostrich management by sticking your head in the sand. Tougher restrictions on those ruled off to prevent the movement of stock to other family members while remaining the “ghost” trainer is also a necessity. Tracks have the final say, and they should begin to speak up, until then they are just enablers.

  • Southwest Dude

    Does anyone really believe the federal government can run anything competently

    • Ann Maree

      This shows your ignorance on this subject. The only role of the Federal government will be to authorize the formation of the agency set up on the order of the USADA to regulate and enforce the rules. It will be funded by the industry, not by taxpayers and not by bettors. The USADA has been very successful in cleaning up cycling and other sports.

    • gls

      How about the Greatest Country In The World!

    • T Party troll.

      • Jay Stone

        Good designation Barry.

    • Bubba

      I agree with you. They have destroyed, NASA, welfare, medicare, everyone but their own health care, the second amendment, EPA, IRS……. to name a few that had good intentions but with time have all become dysfunctional. I think there needs to be a central organizing body, more like the NFL, MLB and other similar organizations, not the Federal Government.

    • Ashley Elliott

      This certainly isn’t a perfect solution but I don’t see anyone stepping up to unite all the racing jurisdictions under one umbrella., Who else can do it?!

  • Smitty

    Let’s see if Monmouth lets Vitali race there this season ,he’s been a regular there for the past few seasons.

  • Kevin Callinan

    We have all got so used to the empty denials, the lawyers and the arrogance we can’t really enjoy a moment like Billy Turner getting himself back in the winner’s circle today at Belmont. He took a 7K purchase and took down a 60K purse with good old fashioned horsemanship. DeFrancis is right, when one of the these 10 time losers has a horse breakdown in a major race it’s over- horse racing won’t survive an incident like Sally’s Hero’s on Monday with a paper trainer Breeders Cup Day. The people with big money in this sport better step up before these bottom feeders take it all away.

  • Ann Maree

    Beautifully articulated. Thanks!

  • Ann Maree

    The folks who own the horses and pay for their care, both vet and trainer fees, are truly the only ones who should have a say in how treatment of their property is regulated. The horses are the ones who can’t speak for themselves yet provide the livelihood for all the stakeholders in the sport. It was trainers who stopped the Breeders’ Cup from making the rules change to remove drugs, i.e., Lasix, from the sport. The trainers (read “horsemen” as trainers have hi-jacked that term) used language in the 1978 Horse Racing Act to threaten to take away simulcasting rights from the Breeders Cup. Not having an economic death wish, the BC withdrew its proposal, and that was the end of that experiment. This was done because of the language of the Act that said any rule changes, “horsemen” have veto power. The system is broken. A national agency or commission, independent of the federal government, such as the USADA, is the only way to bring back integrity and uniformity to the rules governing medication policy.

    • Memories of Puchi

      The first Breeders’ Cup was in 1984 so how did the 1978 Horse Racing Act use the influence of simulcasting rights 7 years prior to that?

  • nucky thompson

    I am sure Vitali has a Valid excuse.

  • Linda Parker

    As long as the industry as a whole glorifies the cheaters and horsemen’s groups refuse to take a real stand against cheating, this sport is doomed.
    Honest horse trainers cannot compete and owners go to the barns that are winning at outrageous percentages, just win at all cost…..
    Make vet bills public, put a witness with the vets and security cameras in each stall. I’d wager a whole bunch of trainers would go into a ” slump”

  • ridingtowin

    Marcus Vitali….another Mike Gill trainer. These are the types he sought out to employ. Vitali, Darrell Delahoussaye, Murray Rojas, Tony Adamo, Tim Hooper, Hector Garcia, Cole Norman, etc, etc. They are all one and the same.

  • conker

    This stinks-Dollars before horse welfare as usual. The caucus members need to step up and set the moral conduct bar way higher, its a no brainer. Cheats out!

  • fooled

    why are people like this allowed to move from track to track ??? He needs to be banned until he serves his actions

    • Ashley Elliott

      Because unfortunately the patchwork systems of commissions and lack of any consistent enforcement allows it.

  • gus stewart

    As a fan owner tournament player,,, i and my partners have seen the increase of strange results and form reversals over the last 15 years. It has made all of us disengage more and more in the sport. We are hard core race fans,, if its turning us away, what do you think its doing to new fans,,, a overseeing body for all us race tracks,, stewards that watch for riders in all aspects of riding,, positioning and not listening to a trainers instruction,, it happens a lot,, these things and no private vets would get the ball rolling,, and the horse owners are the only ones that can get it done

  • Jack Frazier

    It isn’t restricted to Florida or any other racing jurisdiction. How can a trainer have seven, count them, seven horses drop dead in a week in training and races get nothing but a warning? How can a trainer who had two drop dead in training get nothing but a warning? How can trainers with a multitude of overages get a slap on the wrist instead of suspensions? That is how California works and if a trainer is high profile enough, nothing happens. It is sort of like the banks that were too big to fail. If racing wants to clean up its act the big name boys and girls who daily cheat the system would be at the top of the list for suspensions as well as lifetime bans from the sport. There is just too much collusion between the front office, the regulating body and the trainers in question. Justice is supposed to be fair and blind but it isn’t. In California these perpetrators are given a wink and a nod and a free pass. IMO, racing has too many things going against it to ever be as successful as it once was.

    In California there is virtually no publicity about big races or even racing. There are no nightly replays, so horse racing writers in the majority of newspapers in any of the areas where it would be beneficial and draw fans. A week from the Kentucky Derby and there is nothing in these so called newspapers sports page even telling of the large number of California horses in the Derby. The idea that the federal government is the panacea for racing is ludicrous. Horse owners should not be allowed to race their own horses at a track they own. This is a big conflict of interest especially in the area of bad drug tests or disqualifications. Racing is its own worst enemy because the cheaters are the ones featured in the majority of stories in the DRF or any other racing publication. I have been involved in racing in one capacity or another since the early 1960’s and other than watching a few races on television, I don’t really have an interest in going because at best, it is just entertainment that costs more money than a good music concert or a play.

  • David Worley

    Excellent article Ray.

  • Ashley Elliott

    Ray, thank you for staying on top of this important issue. When you are right, you are right! Talk about a loophole! One could drive a fleet of semis through that licensing one! I was at the hearing and almost fell out of my chair when Hamelback said the bit about racing being the most regulated sport. If he and his organization are truly “100% committed to uniformity” then they should stop resisting all collective efforts to do so. As Congressman Meeks stated, no piece of legislation is perfect but for everyone’s sake, the industry has to get under one umbrella.

  • Ashley Elliott

    Maryland didn’t allow him to participate this past weekend? Great!

  • albert

    note many
    owners trainers have actually quite this industry. reasons, broken system lack of real experience, passion meaning the thoroughbred horse is dependent on racing showing jumping otherwise the thoroughbred and other breeds would no longer exsist fixing the equine industry industry is a must, how to to do. Its easy

  • albert

    been on 50 different race tracks in us seing is believing florida is among of the many racetracks with the same type of boys club(quote) ( this is a small club). do you think its just in the top races and track

  • 1973secretariat .

    Most of what’s wrong with racing could be cleared up practically over night if there was a strong will to do so. Implementing the following would clear things up real quick. A 3 strikes and your out for life policy. Could be implemented for a first or second offense if the charges warranted were serious enough. Full repayment of purse monies won when an illegal substance clears but is later discovered when new testing procedures are implemented. Licenses revoked until full payment is received. Mandatory jail time and stiff fines for serious offenders. What’s currently in place and metered out can be compared to the current death penalty where offenders have a much better chance of dying of old age than facing the consequences.

  • minismom

    he is slime and should be ruled off for lifetime – he dumped gill’s horses in the kill buyer – poor things were drugged with lidocane- they had broken feet, knees and ankles – a friend of mine tried to save about 20 but don’t remember exactly how many she rehommed – I got a mare from him and she was a mess – broken bones everywhere – she is not riding sound but gets around ok in pasture situation – he should be ashamed of himself for calling himself a horseman – he is a cheat, drug dealer and should be ruled off for life – he owns a trailer park in ri and has pockets full of money – pockets full – he does not pay his help either – he ruined a real nice mare – vets told me that she would not survive more than 2 years but she has had almost 11 and she will never be butchered – she deserves better – shame on him for even going near a horse – and the vet here at Boston should have known better – maybe that is how doc sheehan made all his $$ – they always got a little help or medicine before a race – broken bones and lidocane

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