Marcus Vitali

Marcus Vitali

Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

Vitali Seeks to Get Florida License Restored

Issue has led the Maryland Jockey Club to deny entry of his horses at Laurel Park.

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 trainer's license rather than face discipline for what the website said were seven pending positives, recently moved his stable to Laurel Park from Gulfstream Park for the summer.

But, in the wake of the story, the Maryland Jockey Club did not permit him to enter horses May 1 for the May 6 card at Laurel and won't 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 May 3. "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 that Vitali called "overages"—came as part of a cascade of positives against numerous trainers called by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering following a tightening of rules some trainers claim was poorly communicated.

"I don't think anyone did anything deliberate," Vitali said. "It's a big miscommunication as to when and how the rules were changed."

"Supposedly, there's a bunch of these Class 4 and 5 therapeutic medication (overage rulings), as they changed the testing," Ritvo said. "Just a different procedure in the testing, more sensitive, more sophisticated."

Under the procedure 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 has 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."

If Vitali receives a suspension, he will need to serve the time before he can enter horses anywhere.

"He's barred until he gets the process going," Ritvo said. "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 his attorney had already begun the process outlined by Ritvo.

"Nobody has done (anything) wrong," Vitali said. "We're facing the facts. The truth always wins in the end."

This story was provided courtesy of The Racing Biz.