By: Matt Hegarty
Kirk Ziadie, a Florida-based trainer who led the Gulfstream Park spring meeting with 22 wins from 45 starts, has been suspended six years and fined $18,000 for what state regulators said were 18 violations of medication rules over the past four years, according to a copy of the ruling.
Ziadie has not started a horse since this summer, after the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering denied his license renewal. At the time, the division said that two horses trained by Ziadie had tested for overages of the regulated painkiller phenylbutazone and another had tested positive for the bronchial dilator clenbuterol during the spring Gulfstream meet.
The division also said that the trainer had pending charges regarding five clenbuterol positives and one phenylbutazone overage in 2012; 13 positives for clenbuterol in 2013; and five overages for phenylbutazone in 2014.
Ziadie’s attorney, Brad Beilly, declined to comment when contacted Wednesday afternoon, saying that he had yet to read the entire ruling, a 58-page document that was issued by the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings.
Ziadie had appealed the wagering division’s decision to deny his license renewal, but the division ruled against that appeal earlier this year. The Office of Administrative Hearings conducted a hearing into the medication positives in August and September, according to the agency.
The agency’s order said that the division had proven that horses trained by Ziadie tested positive for clenbuterol and for overages of phenylbutazone for 18 of the 26 alleged violations from 2012-2015.
“The number of repetitions of offenses was significant and indicates a pattern or practice rather than an occasional oversight,” the agency’s order stated. “Repeated drug offenses have a direct impact on the integrity of the parimutuel industry.”
Ziadie, who has been training since 2002, has a career record of 762 wins from 2,716 starts, for a strike rate of 28 percent. Prior to his license being denied, he had won 35 races from 114 starts in 2015, for a strike rate of 30.7 percent.
Phenylbutazone is a commonly used painkiller in horse racing, but its use is prohibited within 24 hours of a race in Florida. Clenbuterol can act as a muscle builder when used regularly on horses, and regulators nationwide have been cracking down on its use over the past several years due to rumors that the drug was being abused. In Florida, the state had a five-day withdrawal time at the time when most of Ziadie’s horses tested positive for the drug.
In 2013, when 13 horses trained by Ziadie tested positive for clenbuterol, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association complained that the division’s testing laboratory had begun treating clenbuterol as a zero-tolerance drug, meaning any trace of the medication in a post-race sample would be considered a positive. The FHBPA said at the time that there were 125 pending clenbuterol violations from Florida trainers.