By Bill Finley
Trainer Marcus Vitali, whose career has been plagued by numerous suspensions and controversies, has been suspended for one year and fined $10,000 by the Pennsylvania Racing Commission after a horse he trained named Single Lady (Shanghai Bobby) tested positive for d-methamphetamine. He was also hit with six multiple medication violation points.
The infraction occurred on Aug. 21, 2021 at Presque Isle Downs in a maiden special weight race won by the Vitali-trained filly. The horse is owned by Crossed Sabres Farm.
The story was first reported by the Paulick Report.
According to the website pubmed.ncbi, methamphetamine is banned in athletic competition because it may improve athletic performance, but there are no studies assessing its effects on performance.
Vitali requested a split sample, which was conducted by the UIC Analytical Forensic Testing Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois, which confirmed the d-methamphetamine positive. The suspension began Feb. 15 and is set to expire on Feb. 14, 2023.
According to the Paulick Report, Vitali has appealed the Pennsylvania suspension. He is currently racing at Turf Paradise and is scheduled to have his next starter there in Tuesday's fourth race.
Vitali is also awaiting word from the New York Racing Association, which has scheduled a hearing that will determine if it can suspend him from racing at the New York tracks.
In a separate ruling, Vitali was fined $500 after being found on Oct. 6 to be in possession of medications without a prescription. According to the racing commission ruling, Vitali was in possession of medications known as Dr. Burch's 40 Equi-Dyne and Dr. Burch's 6 Windy. Both had labels stating that they were “for veterinarian use only.”
This is far from the first time Vitali has found himself in trouble with regulators or track officials.
There are 84 docket entries under his name in The Jockey Club's online rulings database, many of them for medication violations. Between 2011 and the start of 2016, Vitali was hit with 23 medication violations in Florida alone. He was also investigated over a complaint of animal cruelty.
In 2016, he relinquished his license in Florida after being hit with seven drug violations over a four-month period only to resurface at Mid-Atlantic tracks. In 2019, he was suspended for one-year in Delaware after it was alleged that he interfered with a search of an employee's dorm room and ran off with a vial containing an unknown substance. In 2020 he was banned at the Maryland tracks after it was charged that he was the actual trainer of horses running under the name of Wayne Potts.
Still, Vitali has found places to run. He made the bulk of his starts in 2021 at Turf Paradise and Presque Isle and also had starters at Finger Lakes, Saratoga and Lone Star Park. He made 126 starts in 2021 and won 17 races.
It was also reported by Daily Racing Form Friday that trainer Juan Vazquez was given 30 days worth of suspensions by the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission for two levamisole positives from 2021.