Trainer Jeff Mullins has been suspended seven days, beginning May 3, and fined $2,500 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for an incident in the Aqueduct security barn April 4. The stewards released the ruling April 19, following a telephone hearing with Mullins on April 16.
The suspension will begin one day after the Mullins-trained I Want Revenge runs in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr.I) at Churchill Downs.
Having waived his right to appeal and the board “considering the circumstances”, according to the ruling, Mullins’ suspension was reduced from 15 to seven days.
Mullins was observed orally administrating an over-the-counter medication (Air Power) with a dosing syringe to Gato Go Win, about 30 minutes before the 3-year-old was scheduled to run in the Bay Shore (gr.III). As a result of Mullins’ actions, Gato Go Win was scratched because the trainer was in violation of New York rules which prohibit race-day medication, except for the anti-bleeding medication, Salix, which can only be administered by a veterinarian.
Air Power is an all-natural medication that is advertised by its manufacturer to work as a cough medicine. Its label ingredients are listed as: Honey, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, menthol, oil of eucalyptus, lemon juice, and ethyl alcohol.
Karen Murphy, Mullins' attorney, issued a statement from the trainer the afternoon of April 19.
"The State of New York has conducted its own testing which determined that I did not administer any illegal drug or medication or prohibited substance to Gato Go Win on April 4.
"Under the rules of racing in New York, there is no prohibition for a trainer to possess and use an oral dose syringe. Under those same rules, a trainer may orally administer certain substances to a horse on race day up until race time. The product administered to Gato Go Win fits squarely within that rule; however, the New York Stewards apparently disagree and I accept their decision. .
"With respect to the NYRA Detention Barn, I relied on my only other personal experience in New York where the security procedures in place provided for a thorough review prior to entry into the race day security barn. If there was the slightest question of whether or not something was appropriate that item was prohibited. No items that I brought into the NYRA Detention Barn on April 4 were questioned after the required examination by NYRA personnel. Is that an excuse? No. Did I have a reasonable expectation that "security" would have given me a heads up? Yes.
"To put an end to this unfortunate event, I take responsibility for the infraction and accept the penalty imposed. I have dedicated my life to caring for Thoroughbred race horses. I owe it to I Want Revenege, his owners, the racing fans, and, indeed, the entire racing industry to end this distraction now.
"I will have no further comment on this matter."
The NYSRWB also issued a statement April 19: "Trainers who wish to participate in New York racing are responsible for knowing our race day rules and our medication rules," racing board chairman John Sabini said. "These sanctions should send a clear message that ignorance will never wash as an excuse. I applaud the stewards for scratching Gato Go Win when they did. This horse was flown all the way to New York from California for a single race. As a result of what he did on April 4, Mr. Mullins is learning the hard way that there are tough consequences for not being more familiar with the rules of New York."