By Ray Paulick
Following his alleged violation of detention barn rules in New York, Jeff Mullins may be claiming ignorance of the rules of racing regarding medications or treatments that can be given to horses on raceday. The trainer was allegedly seen by New York Racing Association personnel giving a substance that came in a bottle marked Air Power to Gato Go Win in the Aqueduct detention barn last Saturday, necessitating the late scratch of the horse from the Bay Shore Stakes,
Mullins, who trains likely Kentucky Derby favorite I Want Revenge, was quoted in published reports saying it was a treatment that he routinely gives to his horses before a race. He called it an “honest mistake” (has anyone ever heard of a “dishonest mistake”?), and some apologists are buying his act, saying it wasn't that big of a deal and the media is blowing it out of proportion.
Mullins has previous rules violations. Click here for a list of rulings against him.
If it's true that he routinely gives Air Power to his horses on raceday in California, where he is based, then Mullins is routinely violating the rules of the California Horse Racing Board. The raceday rule was specifically communicated to all licensed California trainers in 2007. Presumably, Mullins was one of those trainers who read the memo.
On Sept. 7, 2007, just after the conclusion of the Del Mar meeting, veterinarian Rick Arthur, the Equine Medical Director for the CHRB, sent a memorandum to all trainers reminding them of what can and can't be given on raceday. The memo's subject line, which seems relatively easy to understand, read: “WATER ONLY ON RACE DAY.”
The memo was written, widely posted and distributed to trainers after three horses had to be scratched during the Del Mar meeting because several trainers apparently were unclear on what can and can't be given to a horse on raceday. One of those trainers was Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg, who administered a substance described as a peppermint mouthwash to the filly The Golden Noodle shortly before the Del Mar Debutante. It was something Van Berg said he had been doing for years. The Golden Noodle was scratched after security observed the filly being given the substance.
“This suggests there is considerable misunderstanding as to what is permitted under the rules and what is not,” Arthur wrote in the memo.
“To be clear, this rule prohibits the administration of any drugs or other substances except as provided in the rule. There are few exceptions. Only water may be administered on race day to wash a horse's mouth. Throat flushes, no matter how innocuous their ingredients, are not excepted. This includes old-time remedies containing menthol, oil of wintergreen, oil of eucalyptus, camphor or any similar products, 'natural' or otherwise including peppermint.
“The rule is simple: WATER ONLY. Mixing prohibited products with water does not make them permitted. If this is observed the horse will be scratched.”
Air Power contains honey, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, menthol, oil of eucalyptus, lemon juice, ethyl alcohol, according to the manufacturer.
Click here to read the entire memo, which includes the applicable CHRB rule, 1843.5: “Medication, Drugs and Other Substances Permitted After Entry in a Race.”
California trainers should have a pretty clear understanding of the rule.
Arthur opted not to comment to the Paulick Report on the Mullins investigation being conducted by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. In 2005, however, he made the following observations about Mullins to John Scheinman in the Washington Post, saying Mullins was a good trainer who didn't have a clear sense of ethics: “It's an attitudinal problem, and those things are hard to overcome,” Arthur said. “It's basic ethics is what it is. The bottom line is [Mullins] basically lives in his own world, and you can tell by his comments that's the case. He's oblivious to everything around him and does things his own way and thinks it's right.”
It looks like not that much has changed since 2005.
Honest mistake? I don't think so.
Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report
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