09/21/2016 2:56PM

Trainer Hunter banned from entering horses at Stronach tracks


Gulfstream Park officials have told Allan Hunter, a trainer linked to the suspended trainer Marcus Vitali, that he has been banned from entering horses at all tracks owned by Gulfstream’s parent company and must remove his horses from Gulfstream’s grounds, track officials said on Wednesday.

The order, which was first reported by the Paulick Report, is based on accusations that Vitali had been overseeing the training of the Hunter horses at Gulfstream while unlicensed in Florida or serving a suspension in the state, according to Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of the racing division of The Stronach Group, the parent company of Gulfstream Park. Hunter has been given 10 days to remove the horses, Ritvo said.

“We believe that Vitali has been giving instructions on training the horses,” Ritvo said. “Marcus Vitali is suspended. He’s not supposed to be training.”

The Stronach Group also owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park in Maryland, where Vitali was based earlier this year, along with Santa Anita Park in California and several other tracks.

Early this year, Vitali was charged with seven medication violations by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Rather than accept a penalty for the violations, Vitali surrendered his Florida license and relocated his stable to Maryland, where he had a valid license. But following criticism of the maneuver, Vitali began transferring most of his horses from Maryland to Hunter’s barn at Gulfstream, leading to speculation that Vitali was overseeing the string despite being unlicensed in Florida.

Meanwhile, early this summer, Vitali reapplied for a Florida license under an understanding with Florida regulators that the seven violations would be adjudicated before a license was issued. Last week, the division and Vitali reached an agreement that requires Vitali to serve a 120-day suspension and pay a fine of $7,000 in relation to the seven violations, which were overages for regulated medications.

In an interview on Wednesday, Vitali denied using Hunter as a proxy to train the horses.

“Absolutely, positively never happened,” Vitali said. Nevertheless, Vitali said he plans to refrain from visiting Gulfstream Park and will quietly serve out his suspension until Oct. 29.

“We made an agreement, and we’re going to deal with the consequences,” Vitali said. “We’ll respect what the higher-ups want us to do, and we’ll just wait it out.”

Horses trained by Vitali won 76 times from 404 starts in 2015, with purse earnings of $2.56 million, the highest total of his career. This year, his horses have won 28 times from 174 starts.

Hunter has won 12 times from 66 starts this year for earnings of $206,803. Vitali has described Hunter in previous interviews as a “good horseman and a dear friend.”

Vitali said that he intends to apply for stalls after his suspension expires, most likely at Gulfstream.

“We’ll regroup, apply for stalls, go back to work,” Vitali said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. In this business, anything can change tomorrow.”

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Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
And this is the problem with horse racing . They guy cheats not once but 7 times. And gets to sit out six months comes back and does it all again . 
What it means for bettors is that they wasted their time reading the form and handicapping and basically threw they money away .by betting horses that maybe we're not doped . But who cares right. Certainly not the regulators . Their first consern is with the cheaters and their careers . 
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Lets see if GP takes notice of the new combo racing at their track.  Patrick Bioncone and Frank
Carl Calabrese  Pat kicked out of HK for drugs and then applied his trade in the US before getting the heave ho from CA and NY, now in FL with a winning % far below his numbers when he was training with the juice.  I can't wait to see his winning % with his now owner.  My over / under is
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago

It simply does not seem difficult to know Mr. Vitali was on the backside. Doesn't GP have security guards. Don't they record visitors? The article says Vitali plans to apply for stalls. Deny the application. Let him race at PARX and race against Preciado.

I consider GP a top tier track. How about acting like one. Man up, deny Vitali and his close friends access.  Thinks of two things for once...the horses and the gamblers. 

realgooddogtoo More than 1 year ago
Never fails, I have not seen a honest trainer come from New England
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
A  common manuever.Anyone following this game has seen this many times over the years .Suspended trainer transfers stock to low percentage trainer (sometimes in common shedrow).Recipients win percentage goes from 4% to 20%.
Pete Sundar More than 1 year ago
PAULICK REPORT broke this story several days ago, you are a only now catching up.
MsTBredRacing More than 1 year ago
Kirk has been saddling and training for his father all summer. Ralph is all of a sudden winning at high % when he looks like the corpse in Weekend at Bernies in winners circle. If they really want to clean up Gulfstream they have a long way to go. How about now Preciado & J Navarro horses allowed? The integrity of racing is skating on thin ice. 
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
Why do you make stuff up like a fool?
MsTBredRacing More than 1 year ago
You have a problem with the truth? Fool. 
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
Ask ritvo what it takes to get kicked off the track ?   Isnt vitali entering r dutrow land ?  Its about time.  
Carlo Vaccarezza More than 1 year ago
Congratulations to the STRONACH group, TIM RITVO and PJ Campo for sending this loud and clear message that this kind of behavior will not be allowed at GULFSTREAM park or in any other of their properties, I hope this ruling will be follow by other jurisdictions. The GULFSTREAM park brand and integrity that TIM And PJ has created  need to be protected and there is no room for individuals like these. Again congratulations, one down and two to go (ziade  and Navarro)
cherney19 More than 1 year ago
they are still not strict enough, everybody and anybody knows when trainers are cheating. The numbers speak for themselves , a $5,000 claimer gets claimed and now he is winning alw. races with a 25 higher Beyer.These guys have to go, and the honest trainers have to speak up.