The New York Racing Association has scheduled another hearing June 24 to investigate trainer Jeff Mullins’ actions in the Aqueduct detention barn April 4.
An enhanced version of NYRA’s Barn Area Violations Panel already held one hearing in the Mullins matter on May 14, and adjourned the proceedings to June 24 without taking any action against the trainer.
Mullins has paid a $2,500 fine and served a seven-day suspension meted out by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. The penalties were served after Mullins admitted he unknowingly breached detention barn rules by giving Bay Shore (gr. III) entrant Gato Go Win an over-the-counter equine cough product. Gato Go Win was scratched after Mullins was observed by NYRA security personnel orally administrating Air Power in the detention barn prior to the Bay Shore.
Karen Murphy, Mullins’ attorney, faxed a letter on June 22 to trainer Richard Violette Jr., the president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, asking that the NYTHA send a representative to the June 24 hearing. Murphy acknowledged to The Blood-Horse that the NYTHA office is closed on Monday. Contacted by phone June 22, Violette confirmed the NYTHA office was closed and he had not seen the fax and therefore declined comment.
In part, Murphy’s letter to Violette, reads:
“On behalf of NYTHA member Jeff Mullins, we ask that you (or a designated NYTHA representative) attend to show your support, and to place your organization’s objections on the record regarding the legitimacy of these proceedings.
"For the reasons stated below, NYRA’s re-configured “Barn Area Violations Panel” presents an immediate and dangerous precedent for all your members," Murphy's letter continued. "Moreover, NYRA has involved six attorneys in this proceeding at a heavy cost to your membership. When purses are being cut and maintenance deferred, the waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars of the horsemen’s money on a matter that has been admitted to is disgraceful.”
Murphy said that the May 14 hearing was not attended by any representatives of the NYTHA, which is standard procedure for a BAVP hearing.
In Murphy’s letter to Violette, she states: “Upon arrival for that 'hearing' on May 14 we were advised, for the first time, that although the regularly scheduled BAVP was meeting that morning another Barn Area Violations Panel had been assembled for Mr. Mullins – or as the NYRA 'Panel Adviser' (Avi Gesser) calls it the 'Enhanced Barn Area Violations Panel' which Mr. Gesser advises will offer a more “robust” process. The 'enhanced' Panel, however, is composed of just two NY RA employees with no horsemen’s representative.”
Murphy will attend the June 24 hearing at Belmont Park, while Mullins will participate by phone from his California home base.