On January 27th of this year, Dr. Orlando Paraliticci, a private vet working for trainer Jane Cibelli, was caught injecting a nerve block, called “P Bloc,” into the Cibelli-trained horse Raven Train. Raven Train was scheduled to run that day in a $16,000 claiming race. According to the Paulick Report, “Paraliticci quickly left the stall, saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.'” Paraliticci was banned from Tampa Bay Downs (TBD) on February 3rd and eventually (May 15th) suspended 90 days by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (FDPMW). Eight months later, Cibelli has finally been disciplined.

download (6)

Cibelli’s punishment is a 60-day Florida suspension and dismissal from TBD for the remainder of the meet. Implied here, is that Cibelli’s personal relationship with TBD official Margo Flynn was an impediment to immediate justice, at least at the racetrack itself. In defending the meager sentence, the state says that without a syringe or positive blood test – “a nerve block administered in this fashion is not likely to produce a positive test” – it had to rely solely on Paraliticci’s word. But when Paraliticci indicted both himself and his employer, he had to have known that the state lacked any evidence beyond a witness to some unspecified injection. It seems, then, that his word – admitting guilt when he probably didn’t have to – should have been at least as damning as a dirty syringe.

For deadening a horse’s leg on raceday, the guilty parties received two and three months. At the very least, TBD is a corrupt venue. At the very least, the FDPMW is a weak regulatory agency. At the very least, Dr. Orlando Paraliticci is devoid of professional ethics. And at the very least, Jane Cibelli is unconscionably negligent. But because everyone in racing knows that vets do the trainers’ bidding, especially one with as forceful a personality as hers, Cibelli is most likely an animal abuser. Reid Nagle, a Cibelli colleague who is outraged by this case, suggests that if this were England, Cibelli would be banned for life. Sorry, not good enough. Jane Cibelli should be in jail.

This from California’s Del Mar on August 24th:

“Shortly after the third race was run the Stewards received notification from Safety Steward Luis Jauregui that when he was pulling up in front of the Receiving Barn he noticed an individual from the Doug O’Neill barn, which is situated across from the Receiving Barn, enter the stall of a horse with a detention sign on the door and administer a product into its mouth. He confronted the person, who turned out to be the foreman, and confiscated the tube, which had the brand name CB2A and contained amino acids, which are illegal to give on race day. The horse turned out to be Cinco de Mario, which was scheduled to run in the fifth race. Mr. O’Neill was informed of the situation and told that the horse would have to be scratched.”

The supplement, commonly used to boost energy, is permitted “until 24 hours of the post time.” O’Neill’s foreman gave it to the three-year-old gelding less than an hour before his race. This, of course, is not the first time “Dougie’s” been mentioned here. O’Neill’s response? (Paulick Report, 9/1/13) “It was a human error. My foreman was supposed to give it to Handsome Mike, who was running the next day.” Hmm. Remember, the horse’s stall was adorned with a “detention” sign.

images

Either O’Neill is lying and intended to cheat or he runs a grossly incompetent ship. Given his track record, probably the former. While an amino acid supplement is certainly not the worst they do to horses, it is raceday illegal for a reason. O’Neill awaits his hearing.

Tim Wilkin is a fine sportswriter, even if one of his duties is to cover horseracing for the Albany Times Union. (Of course, horseracing is as out of place on the Sports pages as blowing away Whitetails in autumn.) But his latest contribution (“Loss Leaves Empty Feeling,” 8/27/13) on the aftermath of Sunday’s 9th race in Saratoga almost seems written with the express purpose of eliciting sympathy for those at the heart of this exploitative business. Pity the poor horseman, for he so loved his former charge.

Wilkin on Charlie LoPresti, trainer of the late Kris Royal: “His heart was breaking because of stall 16. It was empty. Kris Royal, a 5-year-old chestnut gelding who was there on Sunday, was gone on Monday.” Little, Wilkin says, can “soothe [LoPresti’s] aching heart.” And LoPresti himself: “It just makes you sad, number one, because he’s just a neat little horse if you knew him. If you look there and you see his empty stall … what a nice little horse to be around … a fun little guy … he never bothered anybody … he tried. It really makes you rethink what you do. I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘It didn’t really happen, did it?'”

lopresti-charles-09_0

Perhaps, Wilkin writes, the rain-starved fast turf was simply too much for these horses. LoPresti, however, magnanimously refuses to blame anyone. His “fun little guy” just took a “bad step,” “hit a rough spot.” But if you delve a little deeper, certainly far beyond what this article is willing to reveal, you’ll find the root of snapped Thoroughbred legs everywhere: $2 bets and the resultant pots of gold that men like LoPresti relentlessly chase. The tragedy here, is horseracing itself.

NEWS10 is reporting that Stillwater police have arrested horse trainer Joseph DeCarlo for abusing a Standardbred under his care. DeCarlo was charged under Article 26, Section 353 of the Ag and Markets Law (“overdriving, torturing and injuring animals”), a misdemeanor. NEWS10 says that the gelding suffered “severe and extensive internal and external mouth injuries.” More information to come.