MJC to Marcus Vitali: “Face your issues”
Marcus Vitali credit Lauren King
by Frank Vespe
Marcus Vitali will be allowed to race in Maryland — if he faces the music in Florida.
Vitali, the trainer who found himself in the eye of a storm when the Paulick Report revealed that he had surrendered his Florida trainer’s license rather than face discipline for what the site said were seven pending positives, moved his stable to Laurel Park, from Gulfstream, for the summer recently.
But, in the wake of the Paulick Report story, the Maryland Jockey Club did not permit him to enter horses on Sunday — which was when this coming Friday’s races were drawn — and will not allow him to do so until he regains his Florida license.
“We’ve asked Marcus at this time to straighten out his issues in Florida,” Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, which owns the Maryland Jockey Club, said Tuesday afternoon, “and what that means is instead of turning in his license and running away from his issues, we’re saying, ‘Face your issues.'”
Vitali’s positives — which Ritvo described as “Class 4s and 5s,” the least serious medication offenses, and which Vitali called “overages” — came as part of a cascade of positives against numerous trainers called by the Florida Division of Parimutuel Wagering following a rules tightening that some trainers claim was poorly communicated.
“I don’t think anyone did anything deliberate,” Vitali said. “It’s a big misccomunication as to when and how the rules were changed.”
“Supposedly, there’s a bunch of these Class 4 and 5 therapuetic medication [overage rulings], as they changed the testing,” Ritvo said. “Just a different procedure in the testing, more sensitive, more sophisticated.”
Under the procedure that Ritvo outlined, Vitali must get his Florida license reinstated and appeal the positives or face whatever discipline his violations require.
“We are waiting to verify from the state that he’s gone back to the state and said he wants his license back and that he wants to deal with his issue,” Ritvo said. “If he does receive days for these class 4s and 5s and appeals them and is in good standing, then we’ll start accepting his entries. If not, then we will not accept his entries.”
And of course, if he receives a suspension, then he will need to serve that time before he can enter horses anywhere.
“He’s barred until he gets the process going, which could be as quick as tomorrow or this afternoon,” Ritvo said Tuesday. “To us, [surrendering his Florida license] wasn’t satisfactory – it was running away from his obligation. [But if he regains his Florida license], we’re going to treat him like any other guy that caught a positive and is looking at an appeal or days.”
Vitali said this afternoon that his attorney had already begun the process Ritvo outlined.
“Nobody’s done nothing wrong,” said Vitali. “We’re facing the facts. The truth always wins in the end.”