05/05/2016 1:41PM

Vitali reapplies for Florida training license


Marcus Vitali, the trainer whose recent legal maneuvers have raised questions about racing regulation, has reapplied for a racing license in Florida, three weeks after surrendering the license to avoid penalties related to violations of medication rules, according to a Florida regulatory official.

Chelsea Eagle, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, confirmed in an e-mail on Thursday that Vitali has reapplied for the license. As a result of the application, Florida will reopen the adjudication of Vitali’s recent positives, which have included seven overages in the past eight months for medications on a controlled-substance list used by Florida and many other states.

After Vitali surrendered his license in mid-April in exchange for the charges being dismissed, he moved his 35-horse operation from Gulfstream Park in Florida to Laurel Park in Maryland, where he had a valid trainer’s license. The maneuver generated criticism in racing circles that Vitali had exploited a loophole in racing’s state-by-state regulatory system, and it led Laurel officials to temporarily block Vitali from entering horses in the track’s races.

Four horses trained by Vitali were entered on Laurel’s Saturday card, however, according to Equibase records.

Vitali has not returned phone calls. The attorney who represented Vitali in his settlement with the Florida division declined to comment on any aspect of the case Thursday.

Officials for Laurel and the track’s parent company, The Stronach Group, have not returned phone calls. However, officials for the companies told other publications that the entry-box ban on Vitali had been lifted because he told them that he had reapplied for the Florida license.

The Florida complaint about Vitali’s license surrender included language that said the pending medication charges had been dismissed. However, the complaint also said that the case would be reopened if Vitali ever applied for another Florida license.

Eagle said that the division, by regulation, has 90 days to review the license application. “The alleged violations would be required to be addressed prior to the issuance of any future licenses,” Eagle wrote.