The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering expects that a state court in Tallahassee could wait until next April before it issues a ruling on trainer Kirk Ziadie’s appeal of a 60-day suspension for a medication violation.
Meanwhile, Ziadie, who was issued the suspension by the Florida DPMW on June 18, is tied with Bill White and Marty Wolfson for the lead in victories at the Calder Race Course's Calder meet. Through Aug. 16, each has 24 wins.
In Calder’s fifth race on Aug. 16, the Ziadie-trained Trick’s Honor crossed the finish line first--apparently giving him a 25th win. But stewards disqualified Trick’s Honor for interference in the stretch and placed her second to Forty Mike Mike, who is trained by Luis Olivares.
Ziadie and Carl Lida, an attorney who is representing him in the appeal, both declined to comment on the suspension.
The Florida DPMW on June 18 suspended Ziadie for 60 days and fined him $1,000, citing a case in which one of his horses tested positive for a race-day banned tranquilizer after a 2007 race at Gulfstream Park. The Florida DPMW based its ruling on its findings at a hearing on April 1.
Ziadie on June 26 appealed the ruling to the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. The court on July 8 put a stay on the suspension pending its final disposition of Ziadie’s appeal.
On Aug. 14, an official in the clerk’s office of that court said the court does not release timetables for when it might rule on cases.
On Aug. 14, a spokeswoman for the Florida DPMW said it expects it might be "approximately eight months" before the court rules on Ziadie’s appeal. The DPMW is basing that estimate partly on previous lengths of appeals of suspensions.
If the district court overturns or reduces the suspension and fine against Ziadie, the Florida DPMW could appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Florida.
If there is no court ruling on Ziadie’s suspension until 2010, he would be able to saddle horses through the remainder of the Calder meet that will run through Oct. 19 at the Miami Gardens, Fla. track.
Calder will hold its Tropical at Calder meet from Oct. 22 through Jan. 2, 2010.
Ziadie won Calder meet training titles in 2007 and 2008 and Tropical at Calder titles in 2006 and 2007. He won Tampa Bay Downs’ training title in 2005-2006.
The Florida DPMW’s April 1 hearing and subsequent suspension and fine of Ziadie were the result of a Gulfstream race on March 19, 2007. The DPMW ruling listed 12 previous medication violations against Ziadie, totaling $4,850 in fines, and one 15-day suspension. It did not list dates for those penalties.
Not Acclaim, trained by Ziadie, won the race in question and his post-race urine sample tested above the permitted threshold for Acepromazine, a Class 3 tranquilizer.
The ruling stated that Ziadie told hearing officials that he did not administer Acepromazine to Not Acclaim on the day of the 2007 race. The ruling added that he said he has used it on other horses on race days to help settle them down in the starting gate.
The Pari-Mutuel division noted that use of that drug is prohibited on race days in Florida.
On July 9, Ziadie told The Blood-Horse that he did not tell hearing officers that he has administered Acepromazine on race days.
"I don’t know how they got that," he said. "I have never given that drug to a horse on a race day.
He added: "I have given it to horses that are difficult to handle on mornings before they work out. That is for the safety of the (exercise) riders and others who are around them. I am concerned about their safety and the horses’ safety. I have weeded those horses off it (Acepromazine) days before they are going to race."
A Florida DPMW spokeswoman said its initial review of records shows that John Shaw is the only other Thoroughbred trainer that it currently has under suspension. n Feb. 4, 2009, That Florida agency suspended Shaw for 12 months for three positive tests for fentanyl, an analgesic.
Shaw appealed the suspension to the First District Court of Appeal, which has put a stay on that suspension.
Shaw does not have any horses stabled at Calder this year.
Ziadie’s rivals for the Calder met title are White, who has won 15 titles at the track, and Wolfson, who is seeking his first championship for total wins at the track. For the past two years, Wolfson has gained added prominence for his horses’ strong showings in Calder stakes races.
White declined to predict an outcome in the trainers’ race.
But he noted that he has 42 horses at Calder this year, compared with 30 in 2008. He finished fifth in wins last year at the Calder met and second in the Tropical Meet.
Last year, several of White’s regular owners sent horses to tracks in northern states after Calder cut overnight purses amid contract disputes with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
Calder opened this year’s meet on April 24 with all necessary contracts with the Florida HPBA on purses, simulcasts and advance deposit wagering.
"The situation is much better for owners and everyone else this year," White said.
White has won 10 Calder met and five Tropical met titles.
"Winning a training title gives you a satisfaction beyond the dollars and cents in this game," he said.