12/31/2010 2:36PM

California Horse Racing Board rejects reduction in suspension for Mullins

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The California Horse Racing Board has rejected a proposed decision from a hearing officer to reduce a suspension against trainer Jeff Mullins from 70 to 40 days for a 2006 medication violation and announced that it will issue a decision of its own.

The racing board rejected the hearing officer’s recommendation on Dec. 16, following its monthly board meeting, but has not indicated when it will decide on a penalty. In a statement on its website, the racing board said it will review documents and further arguments before making a decision.

Mullins was originally suspended 90 days after one of the horses he trains, Robs Coin, tested positive in 2006 for the painkiller mepivacaine, a Class 2 drug that is not allowed to appear in post-race tests. Mullins served 20 days of the penalty in early 2008, with the other 70 days stayed provided he did not have any further violations for medications in Classes 1, 2, or 3 during a one-year period. During that probationary period, Mullins had another horse, Pathbreaking, test in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide at Del Mar in August 2008. Carbon dioxide overages may reflect the residue of baking soda in a horse’s system. Baking soda is used in what is known in backstretch parlance as a milkshake, which is thought to increase stamina.

Mullins served a 30-day suspension for the total carbon dioxide penalty earlier this year. The racing board then sought to impose the additional 70-day ban, but Mullins requested a hearing, leading to hearing officer Steffan Imhoff’s recommendation.

Imhoff recommended to the board that the suspension be reduced to 40 days. The racing board had the option of accepting, rejecting, or modifying Imhoff’s proposal.

Mullins said Friday that he has yet to review the latest development with his attorney.