Horse Doping at Calder Race Course: Despite 41 Drug Violations, Trainer Kirk Ziadie is Back

Categories: Sports
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Read the New Times investigation: "Cheaters Prosper at Calder Race Course"

American horse racing has recently been rocked by allegations of widespread doping and cheating. The New York Times revealed the sport's deadly toll on jockeys and thoroughbreds. A horse in contention for the Triple Crown was scratched after scrutiny of its trainer's controversial record. And U.S. Senator Tom Udall called for reform citing "an alarming level of corruption and exploitation."

Now a two-month investigation by New Times shows how cheating occurs at Calder Race Course -- Florida's biggest, most lucrative track -- including one trainer who is still racing and winning despite 41 horse doping violations.

Here are some of the highlights of our investigation:

  • Kirk Ziadie, a trainer with one of the state's best win percentages, has guided his horses to 553 victories worth nearly $11 million in purses in his 10-year career. But those same horses have failed state-administered drug tests 41 times. All but three of those violations came within a five-year period from 2004-9.
  • Among the drugs his horses tested positive for were powerful painkillers (which can be used to mask dangerous injuries), tranquilizers (which, in low doses, act as stimulants), and steroids.
  • Despite his repeated violations, Ziadie was only fined a total of $13,100 -- less than the prize for a single race -- and was never asked by state officials to return any of his winnings.
  • When Florida's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering finally tried to suspend Ziadie for two months, he appealed the case for another two years.
  • Ziadie ultimately banned from Calder Race Course, but only because one of his own employees provided racetrack officials with syringes full of mysterious chemicals.
  • Repeated drug violations like Ziadie's are only possible because Florida politicians wrote weaker testing methods into state law.

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Michael E. Miller
Trainer Kirk Ziadie, right, poses with jockey Jonathan Gonzales and horse Sole Runner after the animal's surprise victory this summer
Calder officials deny that there is a widespread problem, telling New Times that the track is "an industry leader for racetrack safety."

Ziadie, meanwhile, gave New Times conflicting explanations for his bad record. At first he denied it, then he said it was just "carelessness," before finally blaming "haters" for attacking his success.

"Look at Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant," he said. "Any time you do anything in life and you are successful, they are always going to try to bring you down."

Our investigation also delves into a $5 million fraud at Calder as well as allegations of drug use and race fixing at the track. Read it here.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.
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5 comments
a305crack
a305crack

thats not kirk zaidie in the picture

turfnsport
turfnsport

Mr Miller, you wrote: "A horse in contention for the Triple Crown was scratched after scrutiny of its trainer's controversial record."

 

Fact was the horse was scratched due to tendonitis.

 

It would be great if you and the NY Times would base your stories on FACT and not fiction.

 

I am all for exposing cheaters in our game, but I sure would like to see ONE article published that had the facts straight.

 

Disillusioned
Disillusioned

 @turfnsport These guys like to sweep things under the rug, and don't tell the public the truth. Do you remember the horse "Green Monkey" that was sold for $16million at the Calder sale, he placed third once (yet at the sale he ran the fastest time) and has never been heard of again

Disillusioned
Disillusioned

 @turfnsport I am glad to see that someone like yourself is willing to put their name out there about exposing cheaters in this game, but Mr. Miller is not necessarily wrong in his statement, due to the fact that if a horse has tendonitis then you don't work him the morning before the race - they only scratched him after they all watched him work, if one suspects a horse with tendonitis, then you most definitely do not do that to the horse, especially not to a champion, surely as a trainer he must have inspected the horse inside and out before taking him out to work - and then it did surface about him being caught with the other penalties. Remember he was appealing the decision but then he had a meeting with them and just took the days, which he is still is serving today. Did you see this latest report about dermorphin http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/sports/horse-racing-discovers-new-drug-problem-one-linked-to-frogs.html and take a look at this www.conspiredcorruption.wordpress.com

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