Kirk Ziadie Appealing 60-Day Florida Ban

Trainer responds to suspension after a horse tests positive for tranquilizer.

The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has issued a 60-day suspension to trainer Kirk Ziadie, 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  suspended Ziadie on June 18 and fined him $1,000, based on its findings at a hearing on April 1.

Ziadie appealed the ruling to the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. The court is reviewing the appeal, and has put a stay on the 60 calendar-day suspension until after it completes that review.

Thus, it is almost certain that Ziadie will be able to saddle horses at Calder Race Course on July 11. He has entries in four races that day, including two of the graded stakes on Calder’s Summit of Speed card.

Ziadie, 40, has won four training titles at Calder meets and one at Tampa Bay Downs, all since 2006.

“When you are on top, everyone wants to see you fall,” he said on July 9 when asked about the heavy suspension.

Ziadie has 15 Calder wins this year through July 9, and is third in the track’s trainer standings.

The Pari-Mutuel division’s Web site shows him with 14 fines and/or reprimands for medication violations since the start of 2008. None of the other trainers among Calder’s top 10 in wins this year have more than five of those violations during that period.

“We abide by all the rules on medications,”  Ziadie said. “I am not not sure why they (violations) keep coming up. Maybe some have been from carelessness or misjudgments (by his employees).”

The Florida DPMW’s April 1 hearing and recent ruling covered only the Gulfstream race in 2007.

However, the division’s ruling listed 12 previous medication violations it had handed Ziadie, totaling $4,850 in fines and one 15-day suspension. It did not list dates for those penalties.

The hearing focused on a Gulfstream race on March 19, 2007.

Not Acclaim, trained by Ziadie, won the race and his post-race urine sample tested above the permitted threshold for Acepromazine, a Class 3 tranquilizer.

According to the DPMW’s ruling, Ziadie told its officials that he has never administered drugs “to make horses run faster.“

The ruling also stated that Ziadie said he did not administer Acepromazine to Not Acclaim on the day of the 2007 race. It 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.

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.”

According to the hearing report, Ziadie told DPMW officials that “one reason for all of his drug positives was that his accounting and management is ‘in chaos.’ He stated that he has since hired a new accountant.”

Ziadie is a native of Jamaica. He is the son of Ralph Ziadie, who has won six training titles at Calder meets and Tropical at Calder meets.

At last year’s combined Calder meets, Kirk Ziadie’s horses won 52 of 221 starts, or 24%.

He has become known for claiming horses and often helping them become  multiple winners on the optional claiming/allowance level.

In past interviews, Ziadie said much of that success has come from decisions to make surface switches and distance switches.

“Anyone can come to our barn and see that my horses are healthy,” he said. “We treat them properly, and keep them running for years.”

Ziadie trains 5-year-old mare Marina Ballerina, who is entered July 11 in the $350,000 Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. 1) at six furlongs.

Marina Ballerina is coming off wins at Calder in the six-furlong U Can Do It Handicap on June 13 and the five-furlong Cool Air Stakes on May 30.

His other Summit of Speed entrant is R Brown Sugar in the $200,000 Azalea Stakes (gr. III) at six furlongs. She has not raced since Feb. 16, when she won the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sprint at the Ocala Training Center.