Updated on 02/19/2012 9:37AM

Judge sets aside Mullins suspension


A San Diego Superior Court judge has set aside a 70-day suspension against California trainer Jeff Mullins for a 2008 medication violation, saying that his rights were violated by the California Horse Racing Board during the hearing process.

It was not immediately clear whether the racing board would appeal Judge Lisa Foster’s 12-page decision, which was signed Tuesday.
Foster ruled that the racing board failed to allow Mullins an opportunity to be heard after the board rejected an administrative law judge’s recommendation in late 2010 to reduce a 70-day suspension to 40 days regarding the 2008 medication violation.

In her decision, Foster said, in part, that “Mullins’ rights to procedural due process were violated” by the racing board.

Mullins, 48, faced the suspension after one of his horses at Del Mar in 2008, Pathbreaking, tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide. At the time, Mullins was on probation after one of his starters, 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 a 90-day penalty for the Robs Coin positive 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. The Pathbreaking positive occurred during that probationary period.

Mullins served a 30-day penalty for Pathbreaking’s carbon dioxide overage in early 2010. That year, the racing board sought to impose the previously stayed 70 days from the Robs Coin case, a decision that Mullins appealed. A hearing officer recommended that the racing board reduce the penalty to 40 days. The racing board rejected the recommendation in December 2010, and according to the decision, Mullins never was given the opportunity to attend a hearing to address the penalty.

Approached in the paddock before Thursday’s eighth race, Mullins declined to comment, referring questions to his attorney, Jim Maniscalco.
In a statement released by a publicist, Maniscalco said, in part, “The court’s decision is a tremendous victory for Jeff Mullins and for all involved in California’s horse racing industry.”