Updated on 09/25/2013 5:22PM

Tampa Bay Downs bans Cibelli, vet from 2013-14 meeting


Tampa Bay Downs in Florida on Wednesday banned one of its leading trainers, Jane Cibelli, for its 2013-14 meet after being notified that she had been issued a 60-day suspension from the state’s racing commission for an incident in which a veterinarian administered an illegal substance to one of her horses on race day, the track said.

In a prepared statement, the track said that it also has banned the veterinarian, Dr. Orlando Paraliticci, for the 2013-14 meet, which is scheduled to run from Dec. 4 to May 4. The statement further said that the track will not accept any entries from Cibelli during the meet, regardless of where she trains.

“Tampa Bay Downs is committed to ensuring a fair environment for those involved in Thoroughbred racing at its location and will continue to invest its time and resources to that end,” the statement said.

The bans were issued nearly eight months after the incident occurred. On Jan. 27, according to documents detailing the investigation, a track veterinarian and her assistant witnessed Paraliticci inject a substance into the back of the right front knee of Raven Train, a horse trained by Cibelli who was entered to race that day. The track vet reported the incident to the stewards.

Paraliticci later told investigators the substance was “P-Block or Sarapin,” according to the documents. Sarapin is a natural substance derived from the pitcher plant that is marketed as a painkiller, although studies of the substance have failed to demonstrate that it is effective.

Cibelli was not at the barn at the time of the injection, and she has resolutely maintained that she never instructed the vet to administer the substance. In an interview Wednesday, she reiterated her position and said that Paraliticci acted on his own. In interviews with investigators just after the incident was reported, Paraliticci – who was later suspended for 90 days – said that he administered the substance on his own, but he changed his story six weeks later, telling investigators that Cibelli was at fault.

In the Wednesday interview, Cibelli also acknowledged the 60-day suspension issued by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering on Sept. 20, but she said that under the order for the suspension, she did not admit to any role in the incident.

“I accept responsibility under the absolute insurer rule, but I’m not admitting to any guilt,” Cibelli said. “I never told him to do it, and I’ll maintain that until the day I die.”

The consent order, which was provided by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering late Wednesday, states that the suspension will start Oct. 15 and run through Dec. 13. The consent order also includes language that prohibits Cibelli from appealing the suspension, stating that Cibelli “waives all right to seek judicial review of this consent order.”

In a Sept. 18 letter included in the consent order, the division’s general counsel, Joe Helton Jr., recommended that the state accept the 60-day consent order because of the difficulty of relying on testimony from Paraliticci. Helton said that the state was not able to test the syringe that Paraliticci used to administer the substance and was therefore unable to positively identify if the substance was indeed Sarapin. Paraliticci accepted his own suspension under a May 15 consent order with the state, in which he agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

“While Dr. Paraliticci did agree to testify in his consent order, there would clearly be significant credibility issues regarding his testimony as the person who actually administered the drug,” Helton wrote.

Cibelli said she expected to be suspended by the division, but she did not expect to be banned from Tampa Bay, where she has been a leading trainer for several years.

“I’ve supported Tampa Bay for 23 years of my life,” she said. “It’s my home. It’s not like it’s my winter residence and then I go somewhere else. This is where my life is.”

Cibelli’s partner, Margo Flynn, is Tampa’s vice president of marketing.

Patricia Cupstid-Crews More than 1 year ago
What a conflict of interest. I remember races being just for Flynn/Cibelli hores. Flynn needs to get out of Tampa or is Burbek dirty too and Margo got so much crap on him he is afraid to fire her.!!!! Hey STELLA! where are your balls that make you king use them. She got off light - slapon the hand because of who she knows.IMPO
John Doe More than 1 year ago
ATTN: Thoroughbred Owners who have horses w/ Cibelli..You've been robbed by Margo and Jane. Go back and think about it!!
turfnsport More than 1 year ago
Good riddance . Take Margo with you. You are both a disgrace to the sport. And your quote “I accept responsibility under the absolute insurer rule, but I’m not admitting to any guilt. I never told him to do it, and I’ll maintain that until the day I die” is simply laughable.
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
I agree with the decision they made....Ive paid Vets tons of money and none of them go around doing injections they arent getting paid for.....But what is the point of the last line? Her sexuality or who her "partner" is or isn't is irrelevant......Margo has no power over these issues and her name should have never been brought up......In fact if you didnt know her sexuality the last line would have confused you to death since it isnt mentioned anywhere else.
John Doe More than 1 year ago
Margo has everything to do with it. She is her "controller" and handles all of her financials. I would like an owner of hers to share an invoice of the vet bills! As per the last line I agree with you, it should of said "Wife"
Gerald Sabo More than 1 year ago
It all boils down to money, money gets things done, including cheating.
10 Flat More than 1 year ago
What I don't understand is how " the state was not able to test the syringe that Paraliticci used to administer the substance and was therefore unable to positively identify if the substance was indeed Sarapin."??? The Track Vet was there, she could have easily gotten them from Parliticci on the spot.
Francine Gagnon More than 1 year ago
Jane and Margo are good friend of mine and I still believe she is innocent. Francine F.
Vegas Guy More than 1 year ago
Then perhaps you are biased? Why would the vet inject the horse for NO reason or without direction from the cheat?? How many other horses were injected without being caught? Dear Jane - how much of your win % was due to injecting junk into your horses? Be honest!
mikey More than 1 year ago
Sure she is and Dutrow was not a cheater..She got lucky 10 years is what she deserved.
John Doe More than 1 year ago
Francine Gagnon---youre guilty too sweetheart!
Joaquin Sanson More than 1 year ago
Only 1 year, very light sentence, now she will have her horses running at Tampa UNDER ANOTHER TRAINING NAME
Gordon More than 1 year ago
That is not true. Tampa is taking a strong stance. Any horses that she currently trains, will be barred from racing there. Including ship ins. they will be on the lookout for any attempts to circumvent this rule. Jane has hurt TBDs reputation big time. She needs to pay a big penalty
SteveT More than 1 year ago
Sorry Gordon, Tampa is doing the bare minimum. They are being forced by public opinion. If they could have, they would have swept this under the rug. I hope they end up paying the price.
John Doe More than 1 year ago
No need for talk, her record speaks for itself. Shes currently a .10% Trainer at Monmouth, Parx and Delaware w/ horses dropping in class. Like someone said before, she couldnt train a cat to drink milk!!
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
They made the right move. Never mind which one is at fault, they both are. Don't guess, you just ban both. Kudos.