Nevada Litfin Suspended Five Years for Recruiting 'Paper Trainer' While Sanctioned

Nevada Litfin | Coady

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The multiple-stakes-winning trainer Nevada Litfin, who has been licensed for 24 years and primarily competes in the Midwest, has been suspended five years and fined $2,500 for his role in a “paper trainer” violation under Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) rules.

The penalties stem from a period last summer and fall when Litfin was suspended for a separate Horseracing Integrity Welfare Unit (HIWU) infraction and asked at least two subordinates to help operate his Canterbury Park-based racing stable in name only while Litfin continued to execute the day-to-day business.

According to the agreed-upon HISA ruling signed by Litfin last month and posted by HISA July 2, the trainer “admits that during the period of his Ineligibility, he continued to engage in the care and training of Covered Horses including but not limited to communications with owners, continued training activities, recurring financial transactions, and personal racing activities.”

From the same investigation, violations relating to “perpetrating a fraud or misrepresentation as it relates to the care or racing of Covered Horses” resulted in lesser suspensions for the two subordinates.

Heather Davis, a stable employee who was licensed as a “groom/hotwalker/stable supervisor” by the Minnesota Racing Commission, but who registered with the HISA Authority only as a “groom,” was suspended three years in an agreed-to HISA ruling dated July 2.

Briannah McDaniel, who had previously saddled around 60 starters as a licensed trainer between 2020 and 2023, started appearing as the trainer of record for horses previously conditioned by Litfin late last August soon after his HIWU suspension took effect. Her agreed-to July 2 ruling stipulates only a 45-day suspension, with the ruling stating that, “McDaniel has provided substantial assistance to the Authority during these Proceedings.”

TDN left voicemail and text messages seeking Litfin's side of the story on Wednesday, but neither yielded a return call prior to deadline for this article.

Lisa Lazarus, the chief executive officer of HISA, stuck to brevity when asked to comment on the trio of July 3 rulings: “Paper training will not be tolerated under HISA,” she said.

On Sept. 21, 2023, Litfin had agreed to an “admission of guilt and acceptance of consequences” resolution to resolve multiple HIWU violations at Canterbury. He was suspended three months and fined $3,500 for “the possession of the syringes” and “attempted Administration of a Controlled Medication Substance during the Race Period for both Acetylcysteine and Furosemide,” plus “Aggravating Circumstances…for, among other things, 'deceptive or obstructive conduct to avoid detection or adjudication of a Controlled Medication Rule Violation.'”

Counting time that had been already served, Litfin's suspension was to run between Aug. 23 and Nov. 22, 2023. But an additional 60-day period of ineligibility was tacked on to the end of his ban for having accumulated nine penalty points, which extended the period of ineligibility through Jan. 21, 2024.

The July 2 HISA ruling against McDaniel stated that she “admits that during the period of Litfin's Ineligibility Litfin requested, and she agreed, to serve as his 'paper trainer.'”

The ruling continued: “McDaniel admits that during the period of Litfin's Ineligibility, she did not maintain full responsibilities for the day-to-day operation of Litfin's barn and management of its operations including but not limited to coordinating with third-party vendors to supply the barn with feed, supplies, exercise riders, and providing other necessary components to maintain a horse training operation.”

Davis's exact role is not completely clear based on the ruling issued against her. “Davis admits she has never been licensed to act as a trainer,” the ruling stated before explaining that she was only registered with HISA as a groom.

In October/November 2023 and in February 2024, Litfin started horses as the trainer of record on 10 occasions at Delta Downs and Fair Grounds. Those two tracks are based in Louisiana, a state that was not then (and is not currently) under the jurisdiction of HISA because of a lower-court ruling that is in effect while awaiting a federal appeals court's decision on HISA's constitutionality.

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