Guess Who’s Back: Vitali Saddles First Runner At Turf Paradise

Embattled trainer Marcus Vitali has returned to entering racehorses for the first time since July of 2019, this time at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz. His trainee Be Gone Daddy ran third in Monday’s Hank Mills Sr. Stakes, and he has four more horses entered at the track in the coming days.

The Thoroughbred Daily News briefly connected with Vitali Tuesday. The trainer said he had bad cell reception and that he would return the call, but did not do so. The TDN was unsuccessful in attempts to get comment from Arizona commission officials.

Vitali has made headlines many times over the years, first for numerous therapeutic medication violations, then for avoiding sanctions for positive post-race drug tests by turning in his license in FloridaIn 2016, reporting by the Paulick Report revealed Vitali was training horses at Gulfstream Park under the name of Allan Hunter; Vitali and Hunter were subsequently barred from the entry box there and at Tampa Bay Downs. Vitali reapplied for a trainer’s license in Florida, where state officials credited him with time served for his medication overages.

Vitali sent out just 29 starters in 2017, mostly at Gulfstream and Gulfstream Park West, but returned with a stronger hand in 2018, with 334 starters, also mostly in South Florida.

In 2019, Vitali’s license was suspended for one year when he interfered with a search conducted by Delaware Park security of his employee’s dorm, bursting into the room and absconding with an object which was never recovered. Vitali claimed the object was a container of marijuana. His employee at the time said it was an unlabeled vial containing a clear liquid of some type which Vitali asked her to keep in her refrigerator. He has completed that suspension.

In 2020, the Maryland Jockey Club told the Paulick Report that it had given trainer Wayne Potts one week to vacate his barn at Laurel Park, where he keeps 30 horses, after track officials say they discovered Potts was program training for Vitali. Vitali reportedly could not get stalls at racetracks in the area. Maryland officials said they discovered the connection between the two when horses based at Rising Sun Training Center in New Jersey were entered under Potts’s name at Laurel and turned up with health certificates that had been altered to white out Vitali’s name. A cluster of horses appeared at Rising Sun around that time from longtime Vitali clients, primarily from Florida. That cluster included Be Gone Daddy.

After Potts was told to vacate Laurel, Vitali applied for a training license in Illinois afterwards but was unsuccessful in receiving one. The horses formerly based at Rising Sun ran at Arlington Park and Hawthorne under trainer Dino DiZeo. Many of the same group from Rising Sun posted workouts at Turf Paradise in the days before Vitali saddled his first runner there.

The post Guess Who’s Back: Vitali Saddles First Runner At Turf Paradise appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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