06/17/2003 11:00PM

Zito drops suit, will serve ban

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Trainer Nick Zito has agreed to drop a lawsuit against New York racing regulators and begin serving a 10-day suspension beginning July 6.

The suspension will put to rest a nearly three-year battle between Zito and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, ever since Mark's Miner, a horse trained by Zito, tested positive for lidocaine, an illegal painkiller, after a race on Aug. 2, 2000.

Zito, who has never had a drug positive, has claimed that the horse was never administered the drug. He filed an $8 million lawsuit against the board after an appeal of his suspension failed. Zito's lawyer, Leo McGinity, said on Thursday, "Nick still believes he's innocent, but it became kind of the right time for Nick to say, 'I fought this as long as I can fight it.' "

In the settlement, Zito agreed to serve the 10-day suspension as long as he was able to select when the suspension began. Zito selected July 6-15 in order to serve the suspension before the Saratoga meet begins in late July, McGinity said.