"We've been pulling blood on some of our horses when they're just standing in their stalls," Mullins said. "And all of them have higher levels of alkalizing agents in their blood than normal. You can pick up almost anything in my barn and it'll have an alkalizing agent in it, I guess. I don't even know what an alkalizing agent is. I'm not a chemist. I'm a racehorse trainer."Mullins said he's determined to get to the bottom of the problem.
"Santa Anita has been really helpful," Mullins said. "They've offered to help pay for the extra testing to figure it all out. We've completely backed off on all stomach medications from the day the horse's name hits the overnight. We're getting through it and it'll all work out. We have to make some adjustments and be a little more careful about what we're giving the horses from now on."
At a meeting with about 50 trainers at Santa Anita on Friday to explain milkshakes and the testing process currently in place, Arthur said, "You will not get a high (bicarbonate level) if you're not messing with your horses. We can tell who's been naughty and who's been nice. There is a very small handful of people who are violating. Eventually, the punishment is going to cost more than the reward."Arthur said testing is being conducted voluntarily by the racing associations; therefore, no horses will be disqualified and no purse monies will be redistributed. However, when the California Horse Racing Board enacts an official bicarbonate rule later this year, "there will be fines and suspensions and purse redistributions."Under Santa Anita's rules – which must be agreed to when horsemen apply for stall space – trainers who have horses test positive for excess TCO2 earn surveillance or the placing of horses in detention barns for a first offense, for which the offender must bear the cost. A second offense can mean a ban on entering horses for 15 days. A third offense can require revocation of stalls.While Mullins has been assigned detention, the second trainer hasn't been disciplined yet, Arthur said.
"(He) has an entirely different history," Arthur said. "I realize it seems a little inconsistent, but we're trying to work with the trainer on this."
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