Trainer Jeff Mullins, embroiled in controversy over comments attributed to him that appeared in the Los Angeles Times
March 6, went on national television Saturday to apologize to the racing public.
Mullins also said he "pretty much" stands behind comments he made about possible conflicts of interest compromising the integrity of the California industry's milkshake testing program.
Interviewed by TVG's Todd Schrupp at Mullins' Southern California home a couple of days after the remarks, which appeared in T.J. Simers column, the trainer reiterated many of the things he told bloodhorse.com last week.
Mullins, currently second in the Santa Anita trainer standings, said he was being hounded by the reporter, who had followed him from the track to his barn, about how the public needs more details about the condition of horses that are entered to run than are listed in the Daily Racing Form.
Mullins said he became irritated. "It escalated to the point it shouldn't have," Mullins said. "Believe me ... if I could take those words back, I would."
Mullins was quoted in the Times
as saying gamblers "are all the addicts and idiots crying because they lost a $2 bet."
Simers quoted Mullins as saying: "I train to win and that's all I care about. It's not my problem (if the general public is deceived). They ought to bring in slot machines, then we could run our horses and make a living without worrying about some crybaby calling the stewards and raising a fit."
Mullins said his comments were meant only for Simers, who wanted to know why he couldn't get all the information he wants.
"They were particularly aimed at one certain individual and not at the whole gambling public," Mullins said. "I didn't mean to offend anybody.
"I've always respected the gamblers and the public," he added. "Obviously a lot of my friends are among the gambling public. Without these people, I wouldn't have the things we have today and we wouldn't be able to enjoy the sport without them. We need them and I sincerely apologize to anyone that was offended and I hope I can regain their respect."
In the article, Mullins also complained that he was being singled out for punishment when one of his horses was found to have an excess amount of total carbon dioxide in his system, resulting in Mullins' starters being relegated to a track detention barn for 24 hours prior to running. The month-long restriction ended March 10.
He noted in the article that Dr. Rick Arthur, who administers the testing results, also is the private veterinarian for several notable trainers. He also pointed out that Ingrid Fermin, executive director for the California Horse Racing Board, is the sister-in-law of trainer Bruce Headley.
He says he still feels there is a problem there. "I think it needs to be looked into," he told Schrupp.
Mullins confirmed that he believes his problems with medication problems began because he claimed Choctaw Nation, a stakes winner for Mullins who was previously in Headley's barn.
"I think a lot of it ... is when you're doing good you're always going to have people who don't care for you."
But the trainer said he uses quite a few products with sodium bicarbonate in them.
There's a lot of things you can do to these horses," Mullins said. "One of the things I've learned in the past is that a lot of these horses have problems with ulcers. A lot of the products you use to treat a horse's ulcers have this bicarbonate in them."
They can also have side benefits, he noted.
"It does help a horse from heatstroke, helps keep a nervous horse calm," Mullins said.
Mullins admitted he was guilty of failing to communicate adequately with Simers.
"I guess I can be labeled an idiot for just talking to him."