04/26/2005 11:00PM

CHRB drops complaints


The California Horse Racing Board has dropped complaints against trainers Julio Canani and Jeff Mullins after the board admitted it does not have sufficient evidence to support the charges.

Canani was cited for allegedly violating three CHRB rules related to the performance of Sweet Catomine in the Santa Anita Derby on April 9.

Canani was accused of violating rules pertaining to a trainer ensuring the condition of a horse, conduct detrimental to horse racing, and the broader rule of grounds for refusal of a license.

Mullins was cited for allegedly violating a rule regarding conduct detrimental to racing in comments about bettors that appeared in a Los Angeles Times article in early March.

In the article, Mullins called bettors addicts or idiots. He was quoted as saying, "If you bet on horses, I would call you an idiot." He later said the comments were taken out of context and were directed only at the writer, T.J. Simers.

In withdrawing the complaints against the two trainers, the CHRB cited a new procedure requiring more input from the California's attorney general's office in investigations conducted by CHRB investigators. The cases were dropped because of the lack of such input, the board said in a statement.

"This was a faulty procedure," wrote Ingrid Fermin, CHRB executive director, in the statement.

The decision to drop the charges occurred days after the Hollywood Park board of stewards dismissed a case brought by the CHRB against Marty Wygod, Sweet Catomine's owner.

State deputy attorney general James Ahern, who represented the CHRB on the Wygod matter, said the decision by the Hollywood Park stewards to exonerate Wygod of any wrongdoing played a role in the decision to drop the charges against Canani. "It was something that we considered.," he said.

In the CHRB statement, Ahern said, "We need to be more certain that cases filed by the CHRB have sufficient evidence to allow the stewards to take action in accordance with racing law. In the cases involving Mr. Canani and Mr. Mullins, they have not violated any statute or regulation."