By Bill Finley
Trainer Marcus Vitali started a horse Monday at Turf Paradise, finishing third in the Hank Mills Sr. S.s with Be Gone Daddy (Scat Daddy) in what was his first start since July 21, 2019.
Vitali's career has been marked by numerous drug violations, suspensions and bans. His career stalled in 2019 when, in mid-July, he was suspended for 365 days by the Delaware Racing Commission for “interfering with and impeding an investigation being performed by the DTRC investigator along with Delaware Park Security staff.” Delaware racing officials alleged that Vitali removed an item from a refrigerator in a dorm room during a search and fled. The item was never recovered.
In 2016, Vitali relinquished his Florida trainer's license to avoid being penalized for seven medication violations between October 2015 and January 2016. Vitali and Florida regulators eventually agreed on a 120-day suspension for the trainer. He made only 29 starts in 2017, but rebuilt his stable and made 334 starts and won 49 races in 2018, the majority of them coming at Gulfstream and Gulfstream Park West.
Vitali's name resurfaced in August when the Maryland Jockey Club alleged that trainer Wayne Potts was acting as a program trainer for Vitali, who was banned at the Maryland tracks at the time. Because of his alleged association with Vitali, Potts was ordered to vacate the grounds at Laurel.
The TDN reached out to Vitali Tuesday and the trainer claimed that because of bad reception, he could not hear the phone call. He said he would call back, but did not do so.
In a story that ran in February in the Attleboro (Mass.) Sun Chronicle detailing Vitali's plans at the time to open a marijuana growing business, Vitali downplayed his many suspensions.
“Every trainer has been suspended at one time or another,” Vitali said. “There are so many different rules. Each track has different rules.”
When reached by the TDN, Turf Paradise General Manager Vince Francia referred questions to the Arizona Department of Racing
Vitali has two more horses entered Wednesday at Turf Paradise, as well as one horse each on the cards of Jan. 8 and Jan. 11.
For his career, which began in 1990, Vitali has made 5,636 starts and has won 888 races.