By: Matt Hegarty
Gulfstream Park officials have decided to allow Allan Hunter to continue to train 12 horses at the Florida track following a probe into whether a suspended trainer was overseeing his operation, a top official of the track said Monday.
Hunter, who has been linked to the suspended trainer Marcus Vitali, was required to disperse approximately 20 horses to other trainers as a result of the probe, which was led by Gulfstream general manager P. J. Campo. Those horses were dispersed to trainers in states outside of Florida, Campo said.
Gulfstream began the probe two weeks ago following allegations that Vitali was overseeing Hunter’s operation. Vitali, who recently reached an agreement with Florida regulators to serve a 120-day suspension for seven medication violations earlier this year, began transferring horses to Hunter during the summer from a stable he was maintaining while in Maryland.
Campo said that Hunter had furnished payroll records, billing statements, and workers’ compensation forms indicating that the 12 horses were exclusively under his care and were not connected to Vitali, Campo said. Hunter has started 68 horses this year, with 12 wins and $207,373 in earnings.
“We did our due diligence,” Campo said. “We thought we’d give Hunter another chance. He has proven that he is the trainer.”
Under the agreement, Hunter was allowed to start a horse on Saturday at Gulfstream. The horse, All Hands Up, a first-time starter, finished eighth at odds of 27-1.
The Hunter probe was one of two launched by Gulfstream seeking to determine if trainers based at the track were receiving instructions from a banned trainer. Shortly after Gulfstream officials acknowledged that they were investigating Vitali’s ties to Hunter’s horses, they also began a probe into whether the banned trainer Kirk Ziadie had connections to horses trained by his father, Ralph Ziadie.
Campo said that Ziadie has furnished the track with records regarding his horses. Track officials plan to review those records over the next several days before deciding whether to order Ziadie to disperse any of the horses, Campo said.