Mullins Slapped With Medication Ban

Mullins Slapped With Medication Ban
Photo: Benoit
Jeff Mullins
A 90-day suspension for trainer Jeff Mullins stemming from a 2006 mepivacaine case has been adopted by the California Horse Racing Board from an earlier decision recommended by an administrative law judge.

The CHRB, in a statement issued Jan. 25, said that Mullins would be required to serve 20 days with the balance of the suspension stayed provided that Mullins has no further violation of regulations for a one-year probationary period. The suspension is to begin Feb. 15 and would run through March 5.

Mullins said he would appeal the CHRB's action in civil court and referred questions to his attorney, Neil Papiano.

"I won't serve any days," he said.

Papiano said he would seek a stay in Los Angeles County Superior Court from the execution of the suspension as well as a court hearing challenging the CHRB's evidence.

Mullins steadfastly maintained his innocence after a gelding in his care, Robs Coin, was found to have tested in excess of the regulatory threshold level for mepivacaine, a local anesthetic commonly used in equine veterinary procedures. It is a Class II violation of CHRB medication rules.

Robs Coin finished second in a $40,000 claiming race at Hollywood Park July 8, 2006. The Maddy Equine Testing Laboratory at the University of California-Davis made the finding after analyzing a post-race urine sample. It was confirmed by an independent lab. The test revealed the presence of 30 nanograms of mepivacaine per milliliter of urine on Robs Coin. California regulations allow up to 10 nanograms per milliliter on race day.

David Rosenman, an administrative law judge, made his recommendation after hearing the case Dec. 28, 2007. He cited Mullins for violation of three CHRB medication rules. The board, meeting in executive session Jan. 16, then adopted the proposed decision.

Papiano said testimony from five veterinarians that had treated the claiming horse showed that Robs Coin was never given a localized painkiller. He said a urine test sample was sent from the Maddy Lab to the University of Kentucky at Mullins' request, but the CHRB refused to divulge the results.

"He was a perfectly healthy horse," Papiano said. "He would not have needed mepivacaine. The CHRB is saying, 'We found it in there and under the trainer responsibility rule, you're responsible.' But they have no evidence Jeff did anything."

CHRB spokesman Mike Marten said the CHRB action ends the agency's administrative process in the case.

Trainer Steve Asmussen served a six-month suspension in 2006-07 after one of his horses tested positive for mepivacaine at Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino in Louisiana. Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher received a 45-day suspension after one of his horses tested positive for the same substance in a race at Saratoga in 2004.

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