by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am
By Ray Paulick

The investigation by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board into possible violations by Jeff Mullins in the detention barn prior to the running of Saturday's Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct is the latest in a string of controversies involving banned medications by the California-based trainer. Gato Go Win was scratched by the stewards after security personnel alleged Mullins was attempting to give an over-the-counter cough formula, Air Power, to the horse while in the detention barn.

A short time later, Mullins saddled I Want Revenge for an impressive victory in the Wood Memorial, setting him up as the potential favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby.

Twice in the last 4 ½ years, Mullins-trained horses tested for a higher than permitted level of sodium bicarbonate (commonly called milkshakes) in California, forcing his starters to undergo 24-hour pre-race surveillance for a specified period. Last year, Mullins was also suspended 90 days, with 70 days stayed, after a horse he trained tested positive for mepivacaine at Hollywood Park in 2006.

After Mullins received his first sodium bicarbonate warning in 2005, he created a firestorm when quoted by a Los Angeles Times columnist calling horseplayers “idiots.” He went on TVG a few days later to apologize for the comments, even though he said he was quoted out of context. Earlier that year, Mullins was fined $1,000 for a positive drug for a horse running in a stakes race at Fair Grounds in Louisiana.

According to the Association of Racing Commissioners International, Mullins had his first medication violation at Wyoming Downs in 1986 when RCI shows that he received a one-year ban and $1,500 fine for a positive test for prednisolone.

Mullins is currently ranked 14th among North American trainers by 2009 earnings. He's won 38 races from 150 starts (25%), with $1,443,330 in purses through April 5.

Following is a list of rulings against Mullins since 1986, compiled from the RCI and California Horse Racing Board databases:

September 2008, necessitated late scratch at Del Mar, $300 fine

August 2008, excessive levels of sodium bicarbonate at Del Mar, horses put under 24-hour pre-race surveillance

June 2008, late to the receiving barn with a horse at Hollywood Park, $100 fine

May 2008, late to the receiving barn with a horse at Hollywood Park, $100 fine

January 2008, mepivacaine positive at Hollywood Park (in 2006), suspended 90 days, ,with 70 days stayed

September 2007, ineligible starter at Los Alamitos, necessitating late scratch, $300 fine

February 2007, prenisolone positive at Santa Anita, $400 fine

June 2005, Bute overage at Hollywood Park, $300 fine

February 2005, ranitidine positive at Fair Grounds, $1,000 fine

January 2005, excessive levels of sodium bicarbonate at Santa Anita, horses put under 24-hour pre-race surveillance

November 2004, failed to deliver horse to receiving barn at Bay Meadows Fair, $200 fine

October 2004, Methocarbamol positive at Oak Tree, $300 fine

October 2004, failed to comply with official veterinary directive at Oak Tree, $100 fine

July 2004, horse improperly shod for turf course at Hollywood Park, $100 fine

April 2003, late to the receiving barn at Santa Anita, $100 fine

December 2000, entered ineligible horse at Turf Paradise, $100 fine

October 2000, entered ineligible horse at Turf Paradise, $100 fine

January 2000, entered ineligible horse at Turf Paradise, $100 fine

January 2000, dimethylsulfoxide(DMSO) positive at Turf Paradise, $250 fine

January 2000, dimethylsulfoxide(DMSO) positive at Turf Paradise, $250 fine

January 2000, failure to appear, $250 fine

March 1999, unlicensed employee at Turf Paradise, $100 fine

November 1994, dimethylsulfoxide(DMSO) positive at Turf Paradise, $250 fine

April 1992, failure to have owner's license at Turf Paradise, $50 fine

January 1990, failure to take care of business in proper manner (no foal papers in racing office), causing late scratches in two races, $200 fine

August 1988, positive tests for poly-ethylene glycol in two horses at Wyoming Downs (no fine or suspension listed)

September 1986, prednisolone positive at Wyoming Downs, suspended one year and fined $1,500

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  • pete townsend

    Between Jeff Mullins, Ernie Paragallo and the aftermath of Eight Belles, may God help you if you make your living in this business.
    We may be one high profile injury away from dog racing.

    Good times.

  • MED

    Paragallo and Mullins paint such a lovely picture of racing, do they not? Everyone in this industry should be mad as Hell, but the silence is deafening. It won’t be casinos, it will be tolerance of these behaviors that will kill racing.

  • Priscilla Peabody

    I agree, MED, the silence is deafening. Reports say that Mullins “may” receive sanctions. Should be automatic sanctions. We appreciate your lists of trainers’ violations, Ray. The rotten apples should be fully exposed. How about giving us the names of a few trainers who play at the top that have spotless records? They should be recognized, and the public should know that horseracing does have some honest guys who still win big races without cheating.

  • Tiznowbaby

    Absolutely agreed with MED. The silence here is deafening. They are killing a beautiful sport with their “anything goes if it makes me money” attitude.

  • Ownie37

    a rapsheet that long gets you 5-10 in the real world.

  • Al

    Throw Mullins out of the game, periiod! No exceptions, no excuses. He willingly and knowingly violated the rules. The National HBPA, the organization that protects idiots like Mullins should be jooining in the condemnation. Where is Alex Waldrop and the NTRA? I can’t wait to get my next e-mail blast from him explaining how the Mullins incident has no reflection on our business!

  • Joe

    IEAH is in for another interesting ride. It’s playing with fire. It shouldn’t be about performance and money at all costs, it should be about class and integrity as well. With rich rewards, mild penalties and without central authority and moral, cheaters always have full barns.

    Thank you Ray for posting Mullins’s wrap sheet. What was his Sept. 08 fine about? Could you post the wrap sheets for all KY Derby trainers a week prior to the big race?

    I’ve got an idea for the NTRA Integrity and Safety Alliance: post positions could be drawn based on the length of each KY Derby trainer’s wrap sheet: the cleanest trainers pick first. Nah, it makes too much sense and cheaters can’t be penalized.

  • Jack Straw

    He’s been an outlaw since he came in and will not change. How’s he going to explain this and wht was I Want Revenge allowed to run? About 7 years ago he openedc the Hollywood Meet at some sublime win %, over 50%. The CHRB put somebody at his barn and suddenly he went about 1 for his next 20 starts. There are 2 big name trainers at Santa Anita that are giving something the night before to their runners in a white tube and the horses have been running wild. Disgusting what has happened to this game!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Vikki

    Why isn’t this guy in jail? He’s been a blight on the sport since he started at Turf Paradise. Every time I see a horse in his barn with any ability I just feel sorry for it. Sooner or later, winning by Pharmacy will take precedent over winning by training skill with this guy (and too many like him). He’s a disgrace and it’s about time we clean house of these Losers.

  • No racing industry official should be commenting on this case until the inquiry is conducted and a ruling put forward. It’s prudent and fair to expect the facts to be determined and the investigation to be completed before anyone says anything.

    I’d imagine that that’s how we’d all like to be treated, no?

  • Michael R

    This type needs to be run out of town. Perhaps drawn and quartered by four oft he horses he administered to?

  • Jack Straw

    We are not dealing with owners like the Rokeby, Darby Dans anymore. Publicity like this will probably have the owners of today sending him horses as we speak

  • takethat

    This also says a lot about the industry. He appears to have pretty good horses but no one will work with him. What a farce.

    “Mullins said he did not know whether I Want Revenge received AirPower before his Gotham win because he was not with the horse in the detention barn that day. Mullins said he was at the detention barn prior to the Wood because one of his stable workers quit before the weekend, and he was shorthanded.

    “For the Gotham, I had some workers from Tony Dutrow’s barn lead [I Want Revenge to the detention barn],” Mullins said. “I had packed the AirPower, but they may have known it wasn’t allowed and not brought it in. I don’t know if [I Want Revenge] got it that day.””

  • Bill Kelso

    If you want to find more guys like Mullins, all you have to do is look towards CA. The guys who lead the trainer standings every meet, all do the same crap he does, and they get away with it. I blame racing execs, especially the dumb-asses in CA for turning a blind eye to it and sweeping it under the rug all the time. They think the public and racing fans are stupid, that is why racing is falling apart from the inside out. The ones we trust to govern the game are destroying it at an alarming pace.

    And, it’s a shame that you have to question the legitimacy of I Want Revenge. Only and idiot (as Mullins calls us) would not question that he has been hitting that horse with something.

    ..and Jack Straw is right. The modern horse owner, or potential horse owner will seek guys like this out to train their horses. So many POS in the world today.

    Teresa- the problem is, the RACING OFFICIALS, alot of them any way, are just as crooked when it comes to this stuff. They sweep it under the rug to protect their own pockets. Don’t think otherwise. The racing officals are as guilty as anyone. They are the ones piloting the plane that is on fire and ready to crash into the ground.

    I hope they all go to hell. It is just sad for the honest and hard working people in this industry who are, and will suffer as a result of these greedy scumbags.

  • Priscilla Peabody

    Teresa, what investigation? They scratched the horse. It’s all on video. Doesn’t matter what the substance was in the syringe, NO SYRINGES ALLOWED IN THE DETENTION BARN! NO ADMINISTRATION OF ANYTHING! PERIOD! He’s guilty of breaking the rules and should automatically be penalized. And I agree with Jack Straw. All of his horses that day should have been scratched. How many owners will he keep after a few important scratches? You know he has been doing the same thing everyday in California, and guys like him will bring a six-hour detention barn to our state eventually, penalizing innocent barns with the guilty.

  • jim

    Are there more like Mullins?

    As far as Derby 135, the fact is, there are others who have been under the microscope.

    Trainers who have a Derby horse and who have served suspensions this decade:

    Mott (gulp, he got a week earlier this decade for something amiss)
    Baffert (poppy seeds, anyone?)
    Doug O’Neill (it was always nice to see that Lava Man could not win outside of CA)

    Anyone else?

    That’s a quarter of the field. And that’s no Asmussen (another 6 months on the pine coming up?), Zito (sorry, Nicky, but you got nabbed for illegal meds).

    If CA stewards and racing authorities can ban jockey Pat Valenzuela for putting something into HIS body, why don’t they do something of the same to trainers who put something into HORSES BODIES that is illegal? And, let’s forget the lame excuse of “It Was An Honest Mistake.”

  • Wouldn’t it be interesting if we had to play by Japanese rules? It seems rather sad that when they banned Biancone for life, all he had to do was set up shop in the US (and even after getting caught here, the one-year ‘ban’ hardly hurt business).


  • Ratherrapid

    Are there any major trainers who are without any violations?

  • PP

    I know of one trainer with a spotless record: Eoin Harty, who just won the Dubai World Cup.

  • ryehill

    This fool should be banned for life.

  • Joe

    A spotless record goes along with a low catastrophic injury and fatality rate.

  • Tiznowbaby

    It burns me up that someone says they gave a medication, but they don’t know what it does or what it’s for. If the horse has a cough, it doesn’t need to run! If it doesn’t have a cough, it doesn’t need cough medicine!
    Freaking cheats. They care nothing about their horses. Nothing.

  • Wow. Whatever did I do with my tar and feathers? Must be around here somewhere. Two words: “permissive medication.” That’s the elephant in the room. Prior to the marriage of racing commissions and drug peddlers their existed a 0 tolerance policy. Pretty easy test. The horse has a triple latte for breakfast, he stays in the barn. Now it is a matter of interactions, quanitification, the integrity of individual labs, and of course, multiple jurisdictions — all contestable. And it is and has been a pandemic largely because of the superstitious nature of the business. If a horse went out and worked six panels in 1:08 with a road cone on his head, 24 others would be wearing road cones by the following morning. The only way to exorsice the variables is to eliminate them. One policy and it starts and ends with “no.” So instead of having to develop 412 different tests for ground up hamster heads, the R & D money could go to purses.

  • Reality Check

    Wow! Do any of you train Thoroughbreds for racing? It was a simple mistake. Most race horses have an allergic airway caused by all the dust from straw, shavings, raking the shed row and the racetrack. Airpower is NOT a performance enhancing drug. The ingredients list is: Honey, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, menthol, oil of eucalyptus, lemon juice. Like Jeff says, it is basically a liquid cough drop–basically candy to soothe a scratchy throat. It’s just like If you had a cup of tea with lemon for a scratchy throat or a Ludens cough drop. Would that make you a “drug user”? Would mean that you are sick or coughing? No Way! Most of the big trainers are not in the receiving barn with their horses, their help is! Yes, some of his positives were for legal drugs that were over the limit, ie ranitidine an ulcer med, the polyethylene glycol from a product called “Furacin” which is used to sweat legs on horses in training and is a by product of Furacin. Some are questionable. But the TCO2 was a problem all over the country — except at the tracks where they did not test for it. The bigger problem is that the industry is not focusing on getting the big cheaters,those with powerful owners and those that fill the entry box every day. They can’t afford to catch those, or if they do, they somehow “lose” the sample. Want to see racing without illegal drug? Just look at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May when they announce in advance that they are going to be doing “supertesting.”

    Jeff Mullins is a smart guy, but he is on the ride of his life with a legitimate Derby horse, Do you really think he would do something that would endanger his chance of running this horse in the Kentucky Derby? Try to be fair people. I think he made a mistake! He does not normally run in NY. He is not normally in the detention barn. The security guard could simply have told him that only sponge,shampoo and the dose syringe for washing out the horse’s mouth before the race were legal in NY. The guard looked in the bucket. He could have told an out of towner, that the “Airpower” was not allowed! The guard could have told him he could not bring it in to the receiving barn! I guarantee you, Jeff would have tossed it it the nearest trash can!

    As to sanctions, there is nothing illegal about the dose syringe. Air Power is not a performance enhancing drug. At the very most, he should get a fine for a late scratch.

    And then we have the Waldrop saying that the NYRA security procedures worked they way they are intended to. Please, is that procedure designed to protect the interests of the local NY trainers and owners so that no outsiders have a chance to win the race? Or is that a way of saying that the industry has done absolutely nothing to catch real cheaters? That’s the issue of importance, designer drugs for which we have no tests, lost samples of huge lasix overages,certain vets medicating the “wrong” horse on race day. Yes, we need to keep the pressure on. We need to catch the big cheaters in racing and the little guys will fall in line.

  • Alison Thompson Murphy

    Reality Check, ignorance of the law is no defense. Just becuse you didn’t know which side of the street was to be cleaned doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get your car towed. Given his milk shake issue I would think he would be overly cautious not to make any more “errors” especially on big race days. And, if he wasn’t in the barn with the horse why wasn’t an assistant or a foreman? Borrowing grooms for a stake just sounds like he runs a gyp operation.

  • Alison Thompson Murphy

    Also, while I was extremely impressed by I want Revenge’s performance in The Wood, reading about Mullins’ history I am a bit more skeptical that it was a legitimate au naturale effort. Do you now see why it’s important to take personal responsibilty for all of your horses on race day. Leaving it to borrowed grooms is just bad judgment.

  • goodjob

    Reality Check, your implication that NY security protects local trainers’ interests over others is ludicrous. Every jurisdiction strives to attract horses from other states. Efforts to invite and lure good horses would not be thwarted by racetrack security. NY was doing its job.

    The rules are the same in California. Mullins is not allowed to administer anything to a horse before a race, including herbal cough remedies. A security guard sits outside the stall of each horse in a stake race, but we can suspect now that Mullins has been getting around the guard with his medication. Do we know he had the bottle in the bucket in NY? Could have been in his pocket. Why does he not give the stuff before the horse goes to the detention barn if it is indeed just a cough drop? The fact that he wants to give it so close to race time smacks of an ingredient that is performance enhancing and doesn’t test. The herbs could serve to mask the good stuff in the bottle. It’s important for all of us to appear completely above board and without suspicions, and that means leaving all substances at home on race day.

  • Richard Coreno

    And nearly every day there is a trainer who does things the right way who is leaving the sport because he can’t compete against those who have the influence and power to flaunt the rules and/or who receive a light slap on the wrist for major transgressions, only to play fast and hard again and again with the lives of the majestic equine athletes.

  • eugenio colombo

    is the basis of everything. It is of very low standards to try and improve or help racehorses with medications.

    It should be a MUST for all Graded races and qualifying black type races to be run on ZERO medication. These races have been created with the purpose to select superior runners and improve the breed. A Winner of a G1race with medication, would probably be a G3 winner on zero medication, creating a different market value. This real form and market value would benefit everybody in the industry and a winning image in our Society.

    Bute and lasix are two enemies. They are not cures and are just masking the problem for the worst.

    We shoot ourselves in the foot when we allow any kind of medication in Graded races.

  • JR

    Mullins is a known scumo that pushes the limits until he gets caught. He explored blood doping for some time proir to being monitored by cameras. The problem is that there are no consequences. Lifetime ban would eliminate these scumos but the tracks are afraid they will not be able to fill races. Discusting lifestyle these people lead.

  • JR

    “Airpower in a mouthwash. Hum. What a great medium to hide a short acting stimulant such as… Well these guys all have pharmacists at their call.
    Blood Doping let me see. Withdraw the horses own blood two weeks to a race. Infuse it the night before a race.?????

  • jc

    This guy is going to have the Favorite in the KY Derby what a ****ing joke. This type of stuff is what kills racing. Why doesn’t he say ” Im sorry I never learned how to read, so i didn’t know what was written in the rule book”. He pretty much fits the role as trainer for IEAH also.
    One more thing without his 150 starts this year, races are not going to be empty in Cal.

  • […] Paulick Report » Blog Archive » MULLINS NO STRANGER TO CONTROVERSY […]

  • Joe

    Michael Matz’s endorses Air Power:

    “One of the biggest things that we try to do to help our horses’ performance is to get them more air”.

    What is a performance enhancing substance?
    What make them legal or illegal?
    Where should the line be drawn?

  • JR

    Racing in California lost one of it’s greatest owners in Mr Richard O’Neil. Although he and his trainer Rafael DeLeon had to run against cheats like Mullins, they were successful. Tizfiz, Highland Torree, I Can See, Steelin, and many others ran drug free by two honest people that never had great horses yet beat the crap out of these cheats. Rest in peace Mr O’neil and good luck to you Rafael Deleon as you lost a friend and a supportive owner. Rafael someday you will get another stable of horses and if the past is any indication you will continue to kick the crap out of these cheats, because there is no exception for being a good horseman.

  • Barbara

    Joe, the line is drawn with Matz not being stupid enough to take Air Power into a NYRA detention barn?

    Different issues here at play:

    Mullins is an idiot for not asking what the rules are?

    Mullins needs to step up and take responsibility instead of blaming NYRA?

    If what he says is remotely true, then NYRA needs to get their act together in det. barn to avoid crap like this.

    The stories so far are that…Mullins can’t get his help licensed in NY, or they quit, he borrows help, he does it himself but he doesn’t know the local rules – damn – if I am Lanzman and IEAH I would get him a seeing eye dog for the next few weeks at CD.

  • […] has previous rules violations. Click here for a list of rulings against […]

  • Nancy P

    Did someone realy suggest that IEAH watch out becuse they might be getting hooked up with questionable trainers. Hell, these are questionable owners. If an ownetr sends horses to Tony Dutrow and Jeff Mullins, anybody in the grandstand can tell you they’re looking for the needle.

    Or maybe they’re just ill-informed down there in the Caribbean Lair.

  • eugenio colombo

    Dear Michael Matz

    On graded and black type making races should illegalize any drugs. Simply ZERO medication should be allowed on racing days. Horses must run on their natural “engine”.
    You know the rest of the world runs on zero medication. Why do we fake the process of selection with medication. When the horse comes back positive, why is the trainer penalized and not the vet as well?

    The racing organization and the media should start an educational campaign for all horsemen, including owners and tracks managers for clean selected races.
    Also, we must educate the owners that horses are not machines. This will be a long and tough program, but we must start ASAP.
    As usual education is the winning tool.

    eugenio colombo

  • I can tell that this is not the first time at all that you mention this topic. Why have you decided to touch it again?

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