Caught: Pain blocker given illegally to racehorse entered in $16K claimer

Cross-posted from the Paulick Report

Jane Cibelli. Photo: Paulick Report.
Jane Cibelli. Photo source: Paulick Report.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS — Association veterinarian Kristen Pastir and veterinary assistant Joelyn Rigione walked by Stall 46 in that same barn around 9:10 a.m. Jan. 27, 2013, just as Paraliticci and his assistant, Marcos Ortiz, were treating Raven Train, who was entered in the afternoon’s second race, a $16,000 claiming event.

Paraliticci had Raven Train’s right front leg flexed and was injecting the area near a large nerve by the accessory carpal bone with 3 milliliters of P Bloc – an anti-inflammatory and pain blocker whose principal agent was Sarapin, a natural substance produced by Sarraceniaceae, a pitcher plant.

Jorge Garibay, who worked as a groom for Cibelli, was holding Raven Train by the lead shank while Ortiz had a nose twitch on the horse. Paraliticci, who saw Pastir and Rigione come onto the scene, finished injecting the leg.

Then, switching to a larger syringe (30-to-50 cc’s, Pastir estimated), Paraliticci injected what he would later say was a mixture of the anti-bleeder medication furosemide and Solu-Delta-Cortef (a corticosteroid that is permitted on race-day in Florida) into the horse’s shoulder.

Knowing he’d been caught in the act doing something illegal, Paraliticci quickly left the stall, saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Pastir called Doug Murray, an agent with the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau and then notified the stewards what had happened. She then drew three vials of blood from Raven Train. Pastir was unable to retrieve the syringes Paraliticci had used to inject Raven Train’s shin and shoulder.

Cibelli was not in the barn when Paraliticci was treating Raven Train. After he explained to the trainer what had occurred, the native of England lit into Paraliticci, the veterinarian would later say to investigators with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.

“You stupid mother——,” he quoted Cibelli as telling him. “Don’t you involve me. Don’t tell them I had anything to do with it. Keep me out of it. You better hope this stays in house.”

A report by the state investigator said Paraliticci later told him that he is “terrified of Cibelli.” When asked why, he responded that Cibelli and Tampa Bay Downs vice president of marketing Margo Flynn – the trainer’s partner – “have threatened many people with being thrown off the track and being excluded from TBD. They threatened to ruin his business . . . they have a lot of power.”

The same morning that Paraliticci said Cibelli threatened him, TRPB agent Murray interviewed the veterinarian and the trainer separately. Murray’s report said Paraliticci “injected high splint (bone) on his own. He wanted to be a hero; it was a mistake.” Read full report >>


One form of horse twitch, used on the nose. Google image.
One form of horse twitch, used on the upper lip or nose. Google image.

“Twitching” is used to keep a horse still in stressful situations, such as receiving veterinary treatment.

Twitching is said to release endorphins that relaxes the horse, while others say that the pain keeps them still.

It is usually made up of a stick-like handle loop of chain or rope on the end, or a metal ring with a rope loop which is wrapped around the upper lip of the horse and tightened.

The aluminum screw twitch is yet another form of twitch.


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7 thoughts on “Caught: Pain blocker given illegally to racehorse entered in $16K claimer”



  2. They are all in on the “take,” owners, trainers, vets…making $$$ off of these poor claiming horses. Many are very injured, ill, dying, as they are forced to race…again & again. Pain killers! The barns should be policed. But those high-up know what is going on too. With the Meat Man waiting in the back for the suffering horses to endure much more. Mercy. Thank you to angels, Ms. Pastir & Ms. Rigione.


  3. This is why so many of these horses end up on the slaughter trucks because of crooks just like this pack. They fill them with drugs before they send them to a auction for kill buyers to pick up or when the kill buyer picks them up at the track. This is why horses drop dead after a race, their hearts just stop because of the overload of drugs pumped into them before a race. Its to bad the jockeys don’t just refuse to ride the horses, they are well aware of whats going on. I guess none of them care about their own lives being put in such danger. I wonder what ever happened to Raven Train, the victim.


    1. I looked up Raven Train on Equibase.

      He was foaled March 2, 2008 and is owned by Southwind Stables Inc.

      In 2011 Raven Train had 7 starts and broke his maiden, winning $15,062. He finished out of the money in all his other races.

      He did not race in 2012.

      This year Raven Train has had three starts finishing third once for earnings of $1,732.

      The race he was aimed at when he was illegally injected, according to this report, was a $16,000 claimer. You can figure out the rest of it.

      There are hundreds of Raven Trains running somewhere in America virtually every day, and being abused just as he is.

      US horse racing is disgusting. It makes me want to throw up.


  4. As much as the racing industry would like you believe this is an isolated incident, sadly I don’t believe a day goes by that this doesn’t happen. Clearly Cibelli is lying based on Paraliticci’s comments and her threatening and incensed reaction to having been caught. The mere fact that Paraliticci is terrified by this “witch” who has the power to destroy him speaks volumes about the shrouded and pervasive drug culture in North America that threatens the safety of both horse and jockey alike each and every day.

    It seems that veterinarians, rather than being advocates for the health and welfare of the horse, have been reduced to mere servants of the trainers who emphasize the use of drugs to keep horses racing and winning – drugs that will lead to dire and often fatal consequences. But then again, veterinarians also have a powerful financial incentive to use drugs – legal or otherwise – as these profits account for the bulk of their income.

    Moreover with the advent of racinos, purses have risen significantly. Tampa Bay Downs is one such complex. Unfortunately this encourages trainers to run horses regardless of their soundness by using drugs to mask injuries and pain, particularly so with those entered into low-end claiming races. The discovery of a gallon of compounded clenbuterol (Ventipulin) only adds further evidence of needless and aggressive drug abuse.

    What is perplexing is why this investigation has dragged on for this length of time – it seems cut-and-dried. But when you look at the situation more closely it becomes quite clear why it has been delayed – all the players in the game are inter-connected – Berube is the President and General Manager of Tampa Bay Downs and conveniently for Cibelli, the VP of marketing Margo Flynn (and Cibelli’s partner in life) is Cibelli’s book keeper. One big cover-up, not to mention a blatant conflict of interest, that simply destroys the reputation and integrity these people once may have had – and the face of NA horse racing in general. But that’s entirely representative of the NA racing industry and its unspoken “code of silence” when it comes to drug use.

    Drugs, deception, and broken horses – business as usual – profit before compassion. Horses racing to their graves – appalling.


    1. Who in the heck are the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau? Oh, I see. Not the Thoroughbred “Racehorse” Protective Bureau. More bottom feeders making a living off these poor horses and protecting fiends like the trainer in this story.

      She is doing little to no different — most likely not nearly as evil or as far reaching — as the tricks and stunts of a Bob Baffert, Doug O’Neill or Rick Dutrow. But racing just looooooooooooves them, and put them in their Hall of Fame. Horse Maiming and Betting Fraud Wing.


      1. Exactly Vivian, its not just her. I think what the people like Baffert, O’Neil and company get away is disgusting. These trainers are at the so-called pinnacle of NA horse racing, yet they are equally as bad if not worse. These are the very people who should be setting a good example for the rest. But let’s face it, NA racing is a corrupt culture where trainers sell their souls to the devil to make a buck.Simply repulsive.


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