Vitali License Reinstated, Despite Record That Includes Complaint Of Cruelty

by | 09.19.2016 | 3:19pm
A horse works out in a saddle towel bearing Vitali's initials this summer at Gulfstream, during which time Vitali was not licensed in Florida

UPDATE: Stronach Group executive Tim Ritvo on Tuesday told the Paulick Report that entries from Allan Hunter and Marcus Vitali will not be taken at any of the company's racetracks and that the former Vitali horses currently running in the name of Hunter must vacate Gulfstream Park within 10 days. Click here for details.

The saga of embattled trainer Marcus Vitali took a new twist last week, when his occupational license was displayed as “current – suspended” on the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation website.

Vitali, who has been charged with 23 medication violations since 2011 in Florida alone, relinquished his training license in the state earlier this year, thereby avoiding sanctions for seven medication violations between October 2015 and January 2016. Vitali moved his tack to Maryland last spring, where shortly after arriving one of his runners tested for an overage of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, according to Maryland Racing Commission executive director Mike Hopkins.

Vitali, whose entries were not accepted by some other tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region, returned to Florida this summer to settle his licensing issues. There, the division denied his license application, citing the seven unaddressed medication positives, and he escalated the denial to the state Division of Administrative Hearings last month. In early September, attorneys for Vitali and the department informed the Division of Administrative Hearings they had reached a settlement agreement, which resulted in his reinstatement.

According to attorney Bradford Beilly, Vitali's license will be suspended for 120 days starting from July 1, 2016 (meaning the suspension should expire Oct. 29). The trainer was also handed a $7,000 fine.

“The settlement was a reasonable resolution of all issues between Mr. Vitali and the Division,” said Beilly. “Mr. Vitali will have a clean slate going forward after the suspension is terminated.”

While Vitali was still waiting for the case to play out in July and August, the Paulick Report received information from multiple sources indicating the trainer was making regular appearances on the Gulfstream Park backstretch, gaining access with a visitor's pass provided by Gulfstream Park management. Eventually, sources say, he was making daily trips to the backstretch, where horses trained by Allan Hunter worked out in saddle towels bearing Vitali's initials. Vitali was spotted instructing staff, often when Hunter did not appear to be present.

Beilly said Vitali was not entering the backstretch for the purpose of training horses without a license.

Under the terms of the Stipulation and Consent Order Vitali signed Aug. 30, he is not permitted in restricted areas of a racetrack, including the stable area, during his suspension. There is no restriction on him watching horses train or race from the grandstand or front side of the track.

Hunter, meanwhile, is enjoying one his busiest and most successful years yet as a trainer. Already, he has saddled more horses in 2016 than he did in the previous three years combined, winning at a nearly 20 percent clip – more than double his career average winning percentage prior to 2016. This year, Hunter's horses – many of them formerly trained by Vitali – have earned more than $206,000. Last year, they brought home $480.

When queried by the Paulick Report, Gulfstream Park Vice President of Racing P.J. Campo explained in late August the track made a decision to stop allowing Vitali in the barn area due to the frequency of his visits.

“He came and saw me (and) asked if he would be allowed to go to the races and watch racing,” said Campo via email. “I checked with the state steward and was told that he didn't have a license but also had no outstanding ruling. So, he was told as long as he behaved, he could attend the races and could visit the backstretch if he was signed in.

“After reviewing that he was making too many visits back there, we have decided not to allow him any access to the backside. He is still allowed to visit the front side of the property but will not be allowed to enter any restricted areas, at least until the State acts on his license request.”

Trainer Marcus Vitali voluntarily relinquished his trainer's license in Florida

Trainer Marcus Vitali voluntarily relinquished his trainer's license in Florida

Florida's statutes leave a lack of clarity about whether state officials were permitted to consider reports Vitali may have been accessing the backstretch without a license in order to train horses that previously ran in his name (if true, this would technically constitute a violation of Florida Administrative Code 61D-5). The state can consider past violations resulting in punishment in Florida, but it's unclear whether it was supposed to consider Vitali's long history of rule violations in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Pennsylvania dating back to 2005, or his total of at least 43 violations over the course of his career.

Animal Cruelty Complaint Dismissed
There is one more item on Vitali's licensing resume the state knows about but could not consider when officials deliberated the deal that led to his being re-licensed: a closed complaint about animal cruelty.

On March 27, 2013, Jay Stone, racing manager for owner Frank Calabrese, instructed trainer Luis Ramirez to claim the filly Tiz Mariand off Vitali for Calabrese in a $15,000 claiming race. Tiz Mariand finished sixth as the heavy favorite, more than three dozen lengths behind the winner. According to documents Stone filed with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, Vitali told Stone after the race that Tiz Mariand had a slab fracture in her knee, and later provided Stone with X-rays taken a few weeks earlier by veterinarian Dr. George Burch, showing a third carpal bone sagittal fracture.

Knowingly running a horse with a broken leg might not constitute a violation of Florida's rules concerning horse racing, but the state processed Stone's complaint as a possible case of animal cruelty.

“There is no rule on when or when not to run an injured horse,” Stone's complaint stated. “I believe there is just a human rule that we don't put the lives of riders and horses at risk. There is also the fact that we are deceiving the betting public by running a horse in a race as the heavy favorite that should not have been in the entries.”

Tiz Mariand passed a pre-race veterinary exam conducted by track veterinarian Dr. Patricia Marquis, and a follow-up examination by Marquis three days after the race revealed an “off left front” at the jog and “slightly stiff and wide left front,” though Marquis detected no heat or swelling in the leg.

Dr. Scott Hay, who was retained by Stone to X-ray Tiz Mariand after she was claimed, told state investigators the horse should not have been allowed to race with the injury. His conclusion was echoed by Dr. William Watson, veterinarian manager for the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, who reviewed the radiographs.

For his part, Vitali said Burch took the X-rays and left them on his desk but never discussed the results with him. Vitali told state investigators the veterinarian had prescribed no medication for the filly and never told Vitali not to run the horse.

Vitali also said he had a “negative prior history” with Stone and never told him the horse had a broken leg. Rather, he provided Stone with Burch's X-ray as a courtesy and passed along a rumor he had heard that the filly may have once had some “pressure” in her knee. Burch said he did tell Vitali about his findings, but that it is the trainer's responsibility to decide whether to run a horse.  According to a state investigator's report, Vitali said “he takes his job seriously and that the allegations made by Stone are ‘bullshit' and done out of spite.”

That same report said Gulfstream President and General Manager Tim Ritvo was alerted to Stone's concerns of animal cruelty March 30 – three days after the filly was claimed –  as was racing secretary Dan Bork. Stone was asked not to talk about his concerns until after the Florida Derby.

In the end, the legal team for the Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering issued a closing order for the complaint due to insufficient proof to issue an administrative complaint against Vitali. After all, the report stated, there was no proof the mare's broken knee had been aggravated by running her in a race, and there was no injury to track personnel or other horses.

A string of horses going to the track at Gulfstream, apparently in Vitali's tack, this summer

A string of horses going to the track at Gulfstream, apparently in Vitali's tack, this summer

“All testimony regarding the injury and danger to others appears to be speculative opinion,” the closing order read. “Mr. Vitali relied on advice from his veterinarian.”

(The closing order on the file also erroneously states that Tiz Mariand won her race on March 27, as well as stating the horse was “sold” rather than “claimed.”)

Tiz Mariand never ran again. She was retired and started a new career as a broodmare.

Florida may be limited in what it can and can't consider when determining Vitali's fitness for license eligibility. Although the Association of Racing Commissioners International's records indicate Vitali would have 19 “advisory” medication violation points, those points have not specifically been assigned by any regulatory authority and Florida has not adopted the MMV penalty system. It can consider complaints against a licensee, but only if they have resulted in prior discipline (which Vitali's animal cruelty complaint did not).

The Stronach Group, owner of Gulfstream Park, arguably has more options, if it wanted to block Vitali from stabling at the track or entering horses to race. As recently as early September, horsemen reported seeing Vitali sitting under an umbrella on the front side at Gulfstream Park, timing his former charges as they work out under the iconic Pegasus statue.

  • Racing Fan

    Sal Sinatra, do you really want this person on your backside?

    • Tip Top Tapitw

      Sam Elliott would love to have this guy

  • Charles Smith

    The South Florida stewards apparently have no say in this matter and Stronach Group management seems to have no concern about a program trainer covering the trail of a suspended trainer who might have been involved in an injured horse racing and running off the board as a heavy favorite. According to this story, the Stronach Group had the stones to ask a representative of the harmed party not to talk about what happened until after the Florida Derby. Shameful.

    • Leeward Vet

      Let’s hope Belinda Stronach cleans house when she ultimately takes over leadership of TSG.

  • Duke

    sounds like sour grapes by Stone for claiming a bad horse (buyer beware)

    • Exhausted Race Fan

      So it’s on the next guy not the POS that ran her with a broken leg? Enjoy watching racing while you can.

      • Finbarr

        Racing in America is so so sick and from what I see of the industry is that the vets are the rats of the backside…..Frankie needs to look into this one himself and crack the whip as he is a good caring man when it comes to the horses….

        • shar

          Just venturing a guess “Frankie” wouldn’t like this AT ALL!

          • Exhausted Race Fan

            Don’t kid yourself, if “Frankie” really gives a chit. Didn’t he go big on WHOA initially? Why isn’t there more promotion for drug free horses? Or any at GP? Stacking multiple therapeutic medications and joint injections are one of the biggest businesses on his track.

          • Finbarr

            His sorted alot of the stacking business …fines ..loss of purse etc….Management is good there but like I said the rat vets fine a way…most vets can’t spell the word “HORSEMANSHIP”…..

          • Finbarr

            Also may I point out a real easy way to clean up American racing and it is staring us right between the eyes…. Positive tests..Positive trainers …Positive grooms..Positive exercise rider and jock…POSITIVE VETS …POSITIVE OWNERS…$1000 a man….Carrots for the horse…Bet that gets the trainers attention….

          • Exhausted Race Fan

            I agree the many Vets are more $ hungry salesmen than carrying the Oath to protect animals from harm. Sincerely, I don’t mean to sound argumentative but are you kidding? Are these fines or purse demotions made public? His tracks are safe homes to Navarro, Cibelli, Ness, Vitali …Please if you see something changing in these trainer’s methods at Stronach owned tracks share the info. It would be Incredibly refreshing to see forced good Horsemanship somewhere in U.S. Horse racing.

          • Exhausted Race Fan

            I agree the many Vets are more $ hungry salesmen than carrying the Oath to protect animals from harm. Sincerely, I don’t mean to sound argumentative but are you kidding? Are these fines or purse demotions made public? His tracks are safe homes to Navarro, Cibelli, Ness, Vitali …Please if you see something changing in these trainer’s methods at Stronach owned tracks share the info. It would be Incredibly refreshing to see forced good Horsemanship somewhere in U.S. Horse racing.

        • Hamish

          I have heard and read the same about Mr. Stronach’s passion for the horses. But, the proof is in the pudding, so let’s see if at some point soon he personally gets involved in this situation.

    • Erika Holderith

      So you are okay with running a horse with a known broken leg?

  • Erin Casseday

    Why is this man even allowed to train horses in any state? He, and others like him, need to be banned for life. Taking a strong stand against trainers that have multiple drug violations is a must to help clean up the industry.

  • A penny for your thoughts

    The state of FL doesn’t give a ____ about racing in general. You have a record, you don’t get to participate, period! this is another of many reasons why the true gambler has left horse racing behind.

    I bet the state of FL wouldn’t let someone be on a casino floor as a worker if they had anything remotely wrong on their records.

    • Erika Holderith

      I have quit betting on Florida racing a few years ago.

    • shar

      Re: Casino worker: Oh YES they would!

  • Bond

    WOW!

  • SPA

    These guys learn the fine art of bearding very well, something the harness trainers have perfected.

  • The little guy

    This is why the public does take our sport seriously and it will continue to plummet in popularity. The powers to be continue to allow people like this to train and operate while they speak tough about cleaning up the sport. The Stronach Group are the worst offenders of stepping on the necks of little guys an allowing trainers with a large number of horses to skate because they need there entries. This is a big blow to the sports image. Thanks Stronach Group!

    Signed,
    The last of the small horse operation owner!
    It’s the Walmart effect, put out the Mom & Pop stables and we’re left with a few big owners and trainers that corner the market by cheating. Boring for fans! So long racing!

  • JustJoe

    Who were the “Gulfstream Managers” that were allowing him access to the backside?

    • shar

      Looking the other way, givin’ Vitali a break, extending him professional courtesy of course . . . until it got to hot

      • Leeward Vet

        Aiding & abetting.

  • If the industry does not rid themselves of these guys like Vitali, Preciado and Navarro, we horseplayers are going to start getting really good at golf.

    • ben

      Maybe the horseplayers should take, a time out off the betting window,

  • Hamish

    Wow, seems this old Boston guy has quite a teflon coat. Somebody is doing a good job looking out for him in the Sunshine State? TSG needs to take better care of situations like this as it generally promised the sport it would.

  • Bryan Langlois (ShelterDoc)

    “In the end, the legal team for the Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering issued a closing order for the complaint due to insufficient proof to issue an administrative complaint against Vitali. After all, the report stated, there was no proof the mare’s broken knee had been aggravated by running her in a race, and there was no injury to track personnel or other horses.”
    You could not make up a more bonehead comment by a gov’t agency overseeing racing if you were stoned!! That is a sickening statement to read or hear. So…so long as there is no proof of making things worse and no one dies it is OK??? I truly just have no words…

    • Erika Holderith

      I also find it incredible on many levels that this guy is allowed to train any horse. Where is the line? Does it take a horse breaking down on the track? Due to social media, people are much more aware of what goes on in racing and there is a lot of criticism because of horses breaking down on the track.

      There are many excellent trainers and owners that truly care for their horses. It is guys like Vitali that wreak destruction for the horses, riders and public image of horse racing.

      I could not imagine Richard Mandella ever running a sore horse, let alone one with a broken leg. Unfortunately in the public perception, both trainers are thrown into the same category.

    • shar

      I feel your pain, Bryan!!!!

    • Tiffany A

      I have words, but will not write them in polite company. This is disgusting.

    • ben

      This is really sickening.

  • Tinky

    That same report said Gulfstream President and General Manager Tim Ritvo was alerted to Stone’s concerns of animal cruelty March 30 – three days after the filly was claimed – as was racing secretary Dan Bork. Stone was asked not to talk about his concerns until after the Florida Derby.

    Anyone surprised?

    • Jay Stone

      As the person who initially filed the report I feel I should elaborate on that. We corroborated on the problem the night before the derby. Tim told me to go and file the report and the four people involved Tim,Dan,vet, and I decided to wait till Monday to discuss procedure. Track was behind this action as well as two vets and I.

      • Tinky

        Thanks for the clarification.

      • Jtfchi

        1 question aren’t you employed by Gulfstream too ?

        • Jay Stone

          Yes I am which doesn’t apply to this incident. I was employed by Mr. Calabrese at that time. It was a bad claim on my part and didn’t really think about it until the x- rays surfaced. GP management was totally behind move that was made. Point of action taken, which was a decision made by many, was endangerment of rider and horse followed by protection of betting public. The rule to stop this from happening is not in the Florida statutes and must be enacted.

          • Jtfchi

            Just pointing it out not as a bad thing just as to how you had close contact with GP management not to mention with the amount of money FCC puts thru the windows and slots give him/you a direct line to Ritvo/PJ and Alon.
            Vitali is a POS for putting riders and horses in danger.
            Even if he doesn’t get his license back he will still train under someone name and it will be business as usual.

          • Four Race Horses

            Rules are not statutes and isn’t it really Gulfstream’s own attorney who is leading the charge to completely dismantle horse racing in Florida? ALL the rules of Florida Thoroughbred racing were repealed several years ago. Where were all you self-righteous folks then? What is Vitali doing that’s any different most? In fact, a rule approved in 2015 says Florida pari-mutuel permitholders don’t even have to drug test winners of races if they choose not to. Thank Rick Scott and deregulation!

  • J

    VITALI IS PRIMARILY A CLAIMING TRAINER. PEOPLE BETTING HIS HORSES HAVE MADE MONEY.
    HE IS OUT OF SUFFOLK DOWNS & SO IS JAY STONE. THEY MAY HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER – BACK IN THE DAY.
    BAD CLAIMS ARE BAD CLAIMS.
    DIDN’T ASMUSSEN’S ASST SCOTT BLASI ALLEGEDLY CALL BAD CLAIMING HORSES RATS.
    VITALI DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE.

    GOOD LUCK VITALI.

    • G-man

      Running a horse with a slab has nothing to do with making a bad claim!
      Doing this puts the horse’s life and the jockey’s life in peril, and the other horses and jockeys in the race. Sickening to hear so a thing, trainer and vet should be barred.

    • Second chance? How ignorant. With over 20 positives he should be working the drive thru at McDonalds.

      • larry outlaw

        Your right,He shouldn`t be anywhere near a race track.

    • Erika Holderith

      Are you sober, J?

    • youcantmakeitup

      Another with New England roots is Tim Ritvo who used to ride there ( back in the day).

    • jash

      it said in the freakin story above tht V had x-rays done and didn’t bother to look
      at them prior to racing the horse.
      Ha hah , nothing willful blindness.

      Nobody with 2 min in claiming game believe that cock and bull b.s.

  • You all forgetting the fact. Running on a slab fracture is endangering human and equine lives. Fortunately, no one was hurt. He needs to leave any animal business. I can not believe jockeys are not putting up a fit about this one. Can we remember Michael Gill. Same thing.

    • Stacy Ferris

      And did Marcus not train for Gill at one point as well

  • gus stewart

    Just sayin stay on point, its the industry that wants his owners in game. Its the vets that are the direct people that load the horses up, the trainers just the middle man. Best tip i got out here in cali 6 months ago.. some trainers are working with the number one vet again.. thats better then films sheets 6 hours of handicapping, cant hit pick 5 or sixes with that info,, but it sure helps with one race to reload for more exotics..

  • johnnyknj

    He’s a bad guy. And not just with horses. If the Paulick Report wants to do a little digging into his business and employment practices, people would know just how bad. If this industry can’t eliminate this sort of person, racing is doomed.

  • youcantmakeitup

    Frank Passero ran a horse with a slab fracture and broke down in a race. He rode a ten pound bugboy on him. The bugboy never rode another race as far as I know. Nobody wanted to work the horse in the morning or ride him in the afternoon. Except the bugboy. This was animal cruelty plus incompetent vet who vetted the horse before the race.Most state vets aren`t very good or they would be in private practice making a lot more money.Horse and rider`s lives are in jeopardy with decisions like these.

    • Stacy Ferris

      What was the name of that horse

  • shar

    1) “According to attorney Bradford Beilly, Vitali’s license will be suspended for 120 days starting from July 1, 2016 (meaning the suspension should expire Oct. 29). The trainer was also handed a $7,000 fine. “The settlement was a reasonable resolution of all issues between Mr. Vitali and the Division,” said Beilly. “Mr. Vitali will have a clean slate going forward after the suspension is terminated.”

    Want to clean up the sport? We can start here! VITALI SHOULD HAVE HIS LICENSE PERMANENTLY REVOKED FOLLOWING ANY FURTHER MEDICAL VIOLATIONS OR RUNNING OF INJURED HORSES, OR ANY OTHER FUTURE DEPARTURE FROM THE RULES, meant to protect horses and jockeys and to keep racing as safe as possible for all concerned. It is sad to me to see only a $7,000 fine for this flagrant rule-breaker. It should be something more meaningful (or why pay to administrate it?!) like $150,000 and 30 days in jail, AND SUSPENSION AND/OR PERMANENT REVOKATION OF TRAINERS LICENSE. This is where the rubber meets the road!

    2) And regarding Cruelty Complaint:

    Jay Stone, racing manager for owner Frank Calabrese “filed [documents] with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, [because] Vitali told Stone AFTER THE RACE, that Tiz Mariand had a slab fracture in her knee, and later provided Stone with X-rays taken a few weeks earlier by veterinarian Dr. George Burch, showing a third carpal bone sagittal fracture.”, “Knowingly running a horse with a broken leg . . .!

    “[which] might not constitute a violation of Florida’s rules concerning horse racing, but the state processed Stone’s complaint as a possible case of animal cruelty.” Further, “THERE IS NO RULE ON WHEN OR WHEN NOT TO RUN AN INJURED HORSE [in Florida]” Stone’s complaint stated. “I believe there is just a human rule that we don’t put the lives of riders and horses at risk. There is also the fact that we are deceiving the betting public by running a horse in a race as the heavy favorite that should not have been in the entries.”

    So, these scummy creeps Vitali and Ritvo (who asked Vitali to keep quiet until after the race) absolutely knew the horse was injured before it ran, and they clearly have no honor nor regard towards the horse, the mainstay of the sport of horseracing; nor do they have integrity, common sense or decency as people by demonstration. Sadly, they represent a cross-section of many scummy creeps in positions of power over jockeys and horses in the racing industry. THEREFORE: THERE SHOULD BE A CARDINAL RULE THROUGHOUT ALL RACING VENUES, GLOBALLY, THAT YOU CANNOT EVER RUN AN INJURED HORSE. PERIOD. So the courts have a rule to act upon.

  • [email protected]

    Something wrong with this picture, How the State of Florida suspend Vitali for 120 days commencing July 1st till October 29th while he was NOT licensed, his license expire on June 30th and he never reapplied because he knew he was going to be denied????????????

  • Condor

    You have to be pretty sick to put your horse in the care of this man. Race them till they die! shamefull that some people are so weak and are prepared to look the other way when this abuse of horses and rules goes on .

  • Michael Infurna

    The fish rots from the head down!! Everyone mentioned in this article is responsible for letting this schifoso anywhere near a horse or a racetrack!!

  • Elliot ness

    They need big fields to maximize profit. If all the dirty laundry was aired in the race horse game , the smell would turn off the betting public. Public would squander money elsewhere. If Vitali ran a horse with a slab fracture, the jockey colony should put bumps on his cranium that a hat could hang upon. Story after story of failed management, turning away from knowledge that could prevent a rider from a catastrophic injury. At the end of the day, all will remain the same , makes no difference what words are crafted together, money Trumps all. The race horse game has and will always be littered with these types. Example, there is a trainer from the land of Putin, he starts 400 a year at gulf stream , when he applied for a trainers license, “have you ever been convicted of a felony” do a little googling . If it was someone with one horse , with this felonious record they would be denied in minutes. He fills races, public wagers money on races , track makes money. Money money money .

    • Exhausted Race Fan

      It may have always been this way but things have changed and Horse Racing is not keeping up. Social media is much more prevalent and calling these types out very publicly. Tracks are doing nothing or even promoting these animal abusers. It’s not PETA and other extremes it’s real people getting turned off, It’s good horsemen being forced to look away with no support from regulation, track mgmt and vets. Track sponsored retirement programs are over crowded but horses can’t run past 4 years old due to being forced to race on blocked joints and stacked therapeutic regimens. The do nothing management at these tracks and unscrupulous vets are probably the last to lose their jobs and that adds to the problem of over 200 homeless horses in GP’s retirement alone. While racing continues to burn through these horses with no longevity and no consequence to the owners who just want to win, “get rid of it” then move on to the next young horse. The owners should share the pain along with their bad trainers and vets.

      • oldracetracker

        I agree completely.

      • Elliot ness

        It’s a game of insiders, period. There really is no way to actually know the extent of bad actors in the game. I believe there are payoffs on a weekly basis geared toward management to blind eye this nefarious behavior. Management will always take a perfunctory attitude towards cleaning up the game, unless the target is an outsider , like Brian Lynch in NewYork. Tabula rasa is the only path onward to whiten up the insiders game. The insiders need to be the outsiders. The status quo = more of the same. Money money money.

        • Hamish

          So, so true. The “Move along, nothing to see here attitude” is far too commonplace, even acceptable, in our sport. Once again a big opportunity exists for TSG to step in and establish itself as a leader in the “cleansing” movement.

          • Leeward Vet

            Will never happen, do some research, start with Tim Ritvo’s record of post race positives as a trainer. Public knowledge. That says it all.

  • jjacks1

    THIS is why there were protesters at Del Mar. THIS is why horse racing has such a black eye. THIS is why blogs like Horseracing Wrongs exist. Everyone who protests racing should be thrilled – now they have even MORE ammunition. Can someone tell me WHY the sport is committing suicide?

  • larry outlaw

    This is some joke,Vitali needs to be banned for life.

    • Ky Race Fan

      WELL STATED!!!!!!

  • Peter Scarnati

    “P.J. Campo explained in late August the track made a decision to stop allowing Vitali in the barn area due to the frequency of his visits.”
    Too bad Mr. Campo failed to expound on what exactly was the magic number of “visits” in the barn area which would lead to Vitali being stopped from further “visits.” Was four, eight, fourteen, twenty-three, or perhaps forty-seven?
    Should have been ONE. And that would have been one too many.
    This whole sick story is yet another example of horsemen and track management spitting in the face of their customers and the integrity of an enterprise which solely relies on those customers betting money for their industry’s very survival.

  • Audrey Gulla

    Wow! This article read from bad to worse. Makes you wonder how anyone is ever convicted of anything! Now Vitali will have horses in his care again?! Besides the risk to horses here….& jockeys, some sections of the media will eat this alive! Stuff like this fires up the nay sayers big time!

  • Mike Oliveto

    I thought Frank was going to strip search individuals suspicious of cheating…

  • Tiffany A

    The article says that in the end THE LEGAL TEAM for the Dept. Of Pari-mutuel wagering made the claim that racing didn’t necessarily aggravate the problem. I am not sure, does that legal team consist of vets? I assume not.

  • Richard C

    Hey, Marcus…Maria Borell is looking for a job.

    • Dirk Digler

      I am pretty sure they were in a porno awhile back?

  • gus stewart

    Just perception, they have given up. Run racing until it no longer can continue. Growth has been taken off the agenda. Again, all othet sports has its defense teams, espn, sports talk radio, cable companies who are involved in pushing sport’s on their cable subscribers packages. Mainstream nbc cbs sport’s shows. Non of these corporate monsters are going to really tell you the truth about what goes on behind the big money decisions within the league’s and our broken justice system. If horse racing understood they dont have these bought and payed for talking heads, maybe it could change. But in my opinion, the white towel has been tossed. i wish the people running this sport would work together and find the way to compete in a bigget arena, but they still want to remain on an island

  • Valeria Buck

    “Knowingly running a horse with a broken leg might not constitute a violation of Florida’s rules concerning horse racing” SERIOUSLY???

  • we’re watching

    This report and further commentary is just more proof of the important necessity of having electronic publication like the PR investigate and report on these issues. It is a real shame that other racing papers and racing radio shows no longer discuss these situations. The sport needs to continue to be cleaned up and reports like this assist greatly in the effort.

  • Morgan

    My god, horse racing. Please stop making me scream into the void at your willful idiocy. It’s like you want everyone to hate you. Just have some common sense. It’s the very least you could do.

  • Al Milano

    Abhorrent.

    Hey guys, who is the greatest trainer of all time? Based upon consistent win percentage over an extended period of time?

    It’s not Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons or Jimmy Jones or Preston Burch or Carl Hanford or Kiaren McGlaughlin or Todd Pletcher or any of those guys.

    It’s Jorge Navarro with his 30+% win percentage. That’s all that Vitali was striving for. Give the guy a break (no pun intended).

  • Michael Castellano

    How any trainer could not lose his license permanently over racing a horse with a broken leg smacks of this guy being connected and protected. The kind of protection that might make it unhealthy for certain people to move against him. There are no doubt other explanations, but this one is a real possibility.

  • Harvey Hochberg

    Vitali should train for Michael Gill….

    • billy

      He did

  • Hamish

    So TSG steps up and takes a strong position. Fantastic! I thought based upon Mr. Stronach’s stated objectives for the sport and the horse that he would most probably make certain that TSG does the right thing. Now we’ll have to see if their edict stands up to any potential legal challenges from Mr. Vitali. Good precedent here.

  • longshot

    It’s just a shame that they let the guy get up to 23 bad tests. There should be a 3 strike rule . 3 times cheating and yank the guys license,kick him off the track ,refused to take entries . Horse racing should distance themselves from cheats like this guy. I wish him nothing but bad luck , hope you get run over by a bus.

  • Manefan

    Oh, yuk! This guy is still around? He should only be involved in an industry where his charges can speak up for themselves. The horse can’t speak up for itself which may be what attracts the likes of thugs like this. He was over his head if he didn’t have time to check an x-ray. But, somethings tells me it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Don’t replicate yourself, Vitali. Please!

  • Petra

    “After all, the report stated, there was no proof the mare’s broken knee had been aggravated by running her in a race, and there was no injury to track personnel or other horses.”

    WHAT THE HELL.

  • Renzo a Bontempo

    Good outcome, now let’s look at the other violators and see what happens, including Todd Pletcher. Other trainers had more significant violations, and nothing has happened yet. Was the Vitali inquisition, just a witch hunt? I hope not.

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