By: Matt Hegarty
Officials at Gulfstream Park have told trainer Ralph Ziadie that he must provide “clear evidence” that his son Kirk, who has been banned from the track, does not have any financial ties to the horses Ralph currently trains, the chief operating officer of the track’s parent company said Thursday.
Ralph Ziadie is second in the Gulfstream Park trainer standings, with 19 wins from 54 starts (35 percent). Kirk Ziadie, perennially a leading trainer at Florida tracks, was banned by Gulfstream management shortly after he was granted a stay in April of a six-year suspension for multiple medication violations.
Tim Ritvo, the COO of The Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream, said the elder Ziadie has been told that he must provide workers’ compensation reports, payroll documents, and bills from owners to verify that the horses are not connected to his son. In addition, Gulfstream’s director of racing, P.J. Campo, has been instructed to talk with the horses’ listed owners to verify that the younger Ziadie does not have indirect ownership, Ritvo said.
“We’re looking very seriously at all these issues surrounding paper trainers,” Ritvo said, using a term that refers to a trainer who is receiving instruction from another trainer who is unable to participate in racing.
The decision to focus on Ralph Ziadie came one day after Ritvo said that Gulfstream officials told another trainer, Allan Hunter, that he must move all of his horses off the grounds and would be banned from entering horses at Gulfstream because of suspicions that a suspended trainer, Marcus Vitali, was actually training the horses.
However, Ritvo said on Thursday that Hunter, like Ziadie, would be given the opportunity to provide evidence that Vitali is not connected to the horses in any way, and if the track deems the evidence credible, he will be allowed to continue to train those horses.
In an interview Wednesday, Vitali denied taking part in training the horses or owning the Hunter horses.
Vitali began transferring horses to Hunter this summer while in Maryland and working on a settlement with Florida regulators over a suspension for seven medication violations earlier this year. Last week, Vitali agreed to accept a 120-day suspension for the violations, which entailed positives for regulated medications under new rules that went into effect in Florida at the start of the year.