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Tampa Bay Downs suspends trainer Jane Cibelli

OLDSMAR — One of Tampa Bay Downs' leading female trainers has been suspended by the thoroughbred track for the 2013-14 season and a veterinarian will not be allowed to practice on the grounds for a second consecutive season, the track announced Wednesday.

Jane Cibelli, 52, who has ranked in the top 10 among Downs trainers for each of the past seven years, also received a 60-day suspension from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, which levied the penalty after concluding its investigation of an incident Jan. 27 at the Downs involving a Cibelli horse.

Neither Cibelli nor any of her employees will be granted stalls at the track, and her entries will not be accepted from offtrack locations, a Downs news release said.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced its decision Sept. 16.

Dr. Orlando Paraliticci, Cibelli's veterinarian at the time, will not be permitted to practice at the Downs for the 2013-14 meet.

Paraliticci also was suspended by the track last season and was issued a 90-day suspension by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation on May 20.

Cibelli and Paraliticci will be allowed on the track's frontside, track spokeswoman Margo Flynn said.

The Downs and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation would not comment further.

Cibelli said she accepts the penalty under thoroughbred racing's rules but will "never, ever admit guilt as long as I live."

Paraliticci could not be reached for comment.

The investigation revolved around Paraliticci administering prohibited race-day medication to the horse Raven Train in Cibelli's barn area and being observed by two Downs employees.

Paraliticci had a track hearing and was banned in February by the Downs. Once the Department of Business and Professional Regulation stepped in, the track was unable to take further action until the department completed its investigation.

"I did not instruct (Paraliticci) to do it," Cibelli said. "Nobody is pretending that any vet is just going to walk into a stall and give a horse an injection. (After Paraliticci's hearing), I said, 'Orlando, why would you inject a horse the day of a race?' He said, 'I've done it lots of times with other trainers. … It's never been a problem before.' "

Cibelli said if the state really thought she was guilty, her suspension would have been longer than 60 days.

"You have an ultimate insurer, a national thoroughbred rule which says anything that happens under your shedrow is your responsibility as a trainer," Cibelli said. "I accept that, and 60 days is pretty much the standard (penalty)."

Cibelli will not be allowed to enter horses at any other track until the conclusion of her Department of Business and Professional Regulation suspension, which runs Oct. 15-Dec. 14.

Cibelli said she was never given a hearing and was interviewed only by a national Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau agent. She knew a state suspension was imminent.

Cibelli said it was "very sad" that the Downs "is taking this stand."

"I've been supportive of Tampa for 23 years. It's my home (track)," she said. "I have a house (in Odessa). I struggled (and) cut my teeth there. The last few years I've been very fortunate to have some great owners and some successful horses.

"Tampa has always taken the position before that once you've served your suspension, then it's a new day. I just feel completely let down."

Tampa Bay Downs suspends trainer Jane Cibelli 09/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 10:49pm]

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