Zito Files $8 Million Federal Suit in New York

Zito Files $8 Million Federal Suit in New York
Photo: Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Nick Zito, has sued the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
Two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Nick Zito has carried his fight to overturn a medication positive and clear his name to federal court.

Zito took the next step in a nearly three-year-old case Tuesday by filing an $8 million lawsuit against the New York's state Racing and Wagering Board in United State District Court in Albany, N.Y.

Earlier in May, the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, declined to hear Zito's appeal of the board's action.

Zito, 55, is seeking to overturn a decision by the board to fine him $2,000 and suspend his license for 15 days for a positive at Saratoga Race Course in August 2000. A post-race test showed traces of lidocaine in Mark's Miner.

Also named individually in the suit are board chairman Michael J. Hoblock Jr, current board member Cheryl Ritchko-Buley and former member Joseph Neglia.

"The basic case is that Nick Zito believes his reputation has been harmed by this, as well as interfering with his livelihood," said attorney Hermes Fernandez, who filed the suit on behalf of Zito in U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York. "He's had a clean record up until this point. And he's been called on for something that was completely out of his control."

New York, like many other states, holds horsemen accountable for any violations that occur in their stable under the trainer responsibility rule.

"The focus of the lawsuit isn't to get a monetary recovery for Nick Zito," Fernandez said. "The focus of the lawsuit is to have this suspension and fine overturned. And there is a request for an injunction to prevent the suspension and fine from taking place."

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