Air Power: All Natural or Not?

An expert discusses the herbal cough remedy that trainer Jeff Mullins used on a horse

While it’s common knowledge within the Thoroughbred industry that trainer Jeff Mullins is in hot water with the New York Racing Association for administering a herbal cough remedy to his horse Gato Go Win prior to the April 6 Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, fans and horseman who are not familiar with various equine medications may be wondering exactly what ingredients make up this over-the-counter product.

The company Finish Line, which manufactures Air Power and sells it on its Web site, describes the product as an “all natural cough formula,” and calls it “safe for pre-event/race/performance.”

“It’s unfortunate that (Mullins) did take an oral syringe of our product into the security barn, because all licensed trainers in America are aware that you shouldn’t administer anything in a security barn,” said Steve Blanchard, vice president of sales and marketing for Finish Line.

Blanchard explained how Air Power contains all natural ingredients: honey, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, menthol, oil of eucalyptus, lemon juice, and ethyl alcohol.

“There’s a very small amount of ethyl alcohol—21 thousands of an ounce,” he said. “It’s in there strictly for manufacturing purposes to dissolve the menthol. In a single dose in a 1,000-pound horse, it ends up being less than what the horse can generate metabolizing their oats. It’s never been the subject of a positive test in any race or show jurisdiction.”

Blanchard added that he has always instructed his employees to emphasize that trainers should never administer any such products in a security barn or detention barn before a race.

While Finish Line does tell its customers they can give Air Power to a horse before it runs, Blanchard assured, “There is nothing in this product that will stimulate the horse or improve their ability to perform. It will help to sooth minor coughs due to irritation for a temporary period of time.”

There are also no known side effects for taking Air Power, according to Blanchard. “In fact, regular use has been shown to be beneficial,” he said. “The aloe vera helps to comfort minor infections and irritations in the throat.”

It has not yet been decided what penalties or fines Mullins will face due to the April 6 incident, which both he and pinhooker Randy Hartley, a part-owner in Gato Go Win, called “an honest mistake.” The matter is still being discussed by Aqueduct stewards.