Kirk Ziadie Faces Six-Year Ban For Multiple Clenbuterol Positives

by | 12.16.2015 | 3:54pm
Ventipulmin Syrup (Clenbuterol)

An administrative law judge in Florida has recommended trainer Kirk Ziadie be suspended six years and fined $18,000 for 18 medication violations over a 2 1/2-year period from July 2012 to December 2014.

Two consolidated complaints for multiple positive tests for clenbuterol against Ziadie came before administrative law judge F. Scott Boyd, who recently issued a recommendation in a parallel hearing – not directly related to this case – that Ziadie should not be denied a license renewal by the Department of Business Regulations Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. In the latter case, Boyd ruled that chain of custody procedures of blood samples by DPMW employees in the post-race test barn did not comply with state law.

In this case, however, even with blood samples ruled inadmissible, the state was able to rely on frozen urine samples that were re-tested by the Racing Laboratory at the University of Florida to prove that horses raced for Ziadie with clenbuterol in their system.

Attorneys for Ziadie argued that the laboratory and DPMW officials changed the level at which clenbuterol positives were called, something officials acknowledged while saying that any presence of clenbuterol on raceday was a violation of the state's drug rules. There was a huge spike in positives for the drug in 2012 and '13. Ziadie also argued he was the subject of “selective and discriminatory prosecution” motivated by a 2012 investigative article in Miami New Times entitled “Cheaters Prosper at Calder” that mentioned Ziadie specifically and was critical of the DPMW.

Boyd was not persuaded by those arguments.

“The number of repetitions of offenses was significant and indicates a pattern or practice rather than an occasional oversight,” Boyd wrote in the Dec. 15 recommended order. “Repeated drug offenses have a direct impact on the integrity of the pari-mutuel industry.

“Clenbuterol, while a drug with therapeutic value, also has adverse effects, and excessive use presents a danger to racing thoroughbreds.”

Ziadie has been leading trainer at all of South Florida's racetracks but has not started a horse since June 2015, when his trainer's license expired and he was denied a renewal by the DPMW. From 2002-15, he's trained 762 winners from 2,716 starters for earnings of $14.4 million, mostly in Florida. He was banned from Calder by track officials from 2009-11.

Bradford Beilly, attorney for Ziadie, could not be reached for comment.

  • Play by the rules and the spirit of the rules. Horse welfare and integrity should be first in all things.

    • Terri Z

      Amanda, please look up the link from the 2012 New Times Article. The officials/ employees of Calder/CDI were allegedly involved in illegal activities as well at Calder. Owners who complained about it were banned.

    • ben

      I suppose that Zadie is gooiing to train in an other state.? Something that is impossible throughout Europe.

      • youcantmakeitup

        The usual next step for these corrupt trainers is to set up camp at a training center and then find a sucker to program train the horses. Juan Vazquez was famous for it.Suspensions don`t stop them, they just make it a little inconvenient.Example would be looking up chart on a 2 yr. old Clearlyagoodstart. Vazquez`s go to rider Cedeno was riding the horse for Randy Allen, was claimed by a trainer who didn`t have two pennies to rub together but was stabled at Vazquez training facilities in Middletown , De. The horse is now trained by Vazquez with Cedeno riding horse. Is it a coincidence that Cedeno was fired by Allen shortly after this suspicious claim. Like I said, nothing really changes. Ziadie will continue on.

      • Hello

        I am sure Sam Elliott is inviting him to Parx he loves theses kind og trainers.

    • vinceNYC

      What should come first is coming down on trainers that screw owners….second should be a focus on doing things that bring gamblers to the game………there is a reason the trainers who walk the gray area get all the horses….they win….Horse Racing is about winning and money………

      • tony a

        There wouldn’t be many trainers left.

        • Horse pucky, there are plenty of qualified horsemen and women out there to replace the miscreants, as well as plenty of owners to replace those to flaunt the rules and support cheaters.

          • tony a

            We’re not talking about cheaters, were talking about liars. One’s that have different conversations with the vet, exercise riders, jockeys, grooms and farriers than they do with owners and nobody will fill you in for fear of losing business.

          • JerseyGirl

            Cheaters are liars, how can you differentiate?

          • tony a

            Well a liar when you own a horse is a trainer that well do things to make you feel that things are going well, they’ll have exercise riders tell you how good your horse is and have vet tell you everything OK ( you do know the vet will not answer you honestly for fear of losing business, quite a shock to me since its my horse) funny that when you do find someone honest using same vet you find this all out.

          • JerseyGirl

            I’m sorry for your horse. His lying about condition makes him a cheat;(

          • Terri Z

            Even Ziadie’s main owner, Frank Calabrese, replaced him with Kathy Ritvo’s brother. The owner knew that change was coming.

          • nucky thompson

            Frank changes trainers more often than South Africa changes finance ministers. Ziadie is just one of a long line of conditioners who have had the good fortune to work for Mr. C

          • Janet delcastillo

            Barry, part of the problem for many trainers here in Florida is the tough Workers Comp issues. I wish the HBPA would help out as then there would be many more “small” trainers here that could compete and be available for owners to choose from! Right now you cant step on the track with out a hefty policy. Many trainers do a great deal of work themselves and cant afford the high premiums

  • Terri Z

    Thanks Ray for following up on the appeal by Kirk Ziadie. I’m glad you referenced the 2012 article in the Miami New Times and added a link to that article. (In the original article, mention was made of the disappearance of a Zaidie employee or associate.)

    Are there other CDI tracks in which the same nonsense– fixing races, stealing of horses, and buzzer use–is going on at?
    No one mentions who might really be the organization behind the decoupling of racing and casinos in Florida: Churchill Downs Inc (CDI). They have already demolished most of the stables and the clubhouse at Calder. Gulfstream pays CDI $1 million dollars for racing 2 months a year at Calder/Gulfstream West.
    You are the only one reporting what has gone on.

  • CE Butler

    Zadie makes Magic Juan Vasquez look like a cub scout! He should be banned for life. If racing is ever going to clean up its image it should stat now. I’d also suspend any owner who has given him horses to train during the last 365 days; they knew he was a criminial and they were risking horses and jockeys lives just to make a quick buck. It’s really sickening!

    • Bristling

      Where do you get your info ? NO ONE can make Juan look like a cub scout !!!! Not even Ramon !!!!!!!

  • gus stewart

    now if we could get judge Boyd to see cases across the country, and review test results from across the country with high percentage trainers,we may take a step in cleaning up the sport.. problem being I’m sure Zadie as others, just played to the rules written in the playbook for training race horses. you see we have different rules for different states. Give the judge some lab tests from California, with some of our well known leading trainers over the last 10 years, and I would guess he would need a few calculators to add up the offenses…LOL…

  • rpres43

    CDI was so blatantly involved in all of this. They got what they wanted when the slots came in, and were happy to destroy their racing product, by going head to head with GP with a horrible product. Their current FG and CD products(outside of KY Derby and Oaks day) are also putrid. Thank you GP for presenting us with a decent racing product yearround,

  • vinceNYC

    and on another topic has St. Maria Borell been given horses by other owners yet

    • Garrigan

      Rumor has it she got 16 head to train for a country western singer

  • You have to love this part of the above article — “Ziadie also argued he was the subject of “selective and discriminatory prosecution” motivated by a 2012 investigative article in Miami New Times entitled“Cheaters Prosper at Calder” that mentioned Ziadie specifically and was critical of the DPMW.”

    Well I should certainly hope so! Like this is a bad thing?

    Picking on a trainer just for the sake of picking on a trainer is unconscionable, but going after a trainer who glows in the dark and is surrounded by lots of noise seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    Gratifying that this guy’s ploy of using a mishandling of samples to get off the hook did not spare him in the end.

    • Dadnatron

      I agree Barry, but WHY is the ‘mishandling of samples’ so commonly an issue? Isn’t there a booklet somewhere that gives the appropriate instructions? The ‘little’ things, such as this are commonly what kills a case. I hear this excuse and defense tactic quite often. It seems like an easy fix, at least of this one simple issue that is almost ubiquitously used as a defense.

      • johnnyknj

        Because the level of incompetence readily found at all levels and in all corners of the “industry” is staggering.

      • I don’t have any experience in this to be able to answer your question.

    • Old Timer

      Actually his argument did stand up as the blood was thrown out, BUT the urine still was used to vindicate the testing results of a positive. Chain of custody needs to be followed and due process given, even to the most vile of offenders, its still America not North Korea.

      Shockingly agree with you for once that looking into someone because there’s a full orchestra blazing behind them sounding an alarm, isn’t a bad thing…

      • If the FBI can use profiling, why can’t other law enforcement groups? Obviously profiling on broad grounds of race or ethnicity is abusive, but profiling for drug cheats based on a cacophony of sounds is an entirely different matter.

    • Terri Z

      Barry, I have seen Kirk Ziadie and his cast of characters at the former Calder Race Track. And they look like low class hoodlums. In the original article, one of the people who worked for him disappeared after he spoke up.
      I hope this is the final court decision. Zaidie needs to get a lengthy ban.

    • gls

      He should get banned for life, his owners should get banned for at least a year. Or we could use them like “blue dye” and see what trainers they gravitate to. Once a cheater always a cheater. And if they say they didn’t know, then they’er to stupid to owe a horse.

      • gls


  • Keith L. O’Brien

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…well in New York, there was a vet named Dr Gilman who patrolled the backstretch and took blood samples of every horse racing that day! Then one day due to budgetary constraints the practice was stopped. Since then we have seen the rise of program trainers and program medication usage, with clenbuterol being one of many such medications. Medications that help insure high win percentages, while also having therapeutic effects! Put every horse on a certain protocol, subsequently covering all details and churn out those high numbers.

  • Really?

    The thoroughbred industry has to start treating clenbuterol like Los Alamitos. It is a useful drug but it also is a huge performance enhancer. When the new “uniform” midatlantic rules went into effect the withdrawal time was pushed back to weeks instead of days. Most horseman followed the rules and stopped using it (you pretty much had to use it daily before if you wanted to win a race). But other horseman are taking a shot and still withdrawing it a few days before. The positives are not being dealt with harshly. Case in point is Ramon Preciado got two Clenbuterol positives at Delaware which he is appealing including for his stakes horse that broke the track record that day. Why isn’t attention being paid to this? By instituting this new rule honest horsemen are at a huge disadvantage. Clearly hair testing is effective.

    • I was one of the first writers to point out that Clenbuterol was being used for its steroidal properties and was listed as a banned substance by WADA (World Anti-Doping Association) under steroids. Shortly after that, Rich Arthur, who I hold in high esteem, for reasons known best to him, made it ok for use by California trainers under certain guidelines.

      Clenbuterol is a fantastic medication when used for its intended purpose as an agent to clear upper airway disease, but an insidious drug when used improperly. The side effects can be horrendous on the animal.

      If racetracks in America would adopt a plan to have a backstretch pharmacy, from which vets would have to acquire and register their use of all drugs used on horses at the racetrack, this problem would be well on its way to be solved.

      We all admire vets for what they do to help our horses. But they have some in their ranks that abuse the system and cast a wide blanket over all of the members of the profession, which taints the best vets.

      It is high time for the vets to get off their collective asses, band together, and take a genuinely proactive stance against the overuse of drugs. If racing shrivels up, their hands will not be clean.

      The good of Clenbuterol is outweighed by the bad. Vets like the Dr. Clara Fenger, who praise the benefits of therapeutic meds, should stop pushing so hard for their use and expend a little more effort in reining in drug abuse.

      • ben

        Vet,s like CF are only pushing on them therapeutic meds, because those meds means income.

        Them vets do not give a damn for the horses involved.

        If you really wants a zero clenbuterol test, the last administration needs to at least 30 days before the intended race and not 2 weeks.

  • Janet delcastillo

    I think some problems started when trainers were allowed to have many divisions and barns at different tracks. “Super trainers” have possibly hundreds of horses and can rule the entry box since they can fill races. Many good trainers are overlooked that would give more hands on training for the owners. But owners look at stats and dont realize how many horses are lost in the process of getting them to win. More trainers with smaller barns would help level the playing field…

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