09/17/2002 12:00AM

Kentucky asks spray advice

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Kentucky Racing Commission has asked two medical advisers, Dr. Tom Tobin and Dr. Rick Sams, to make a recommendation on the so-called mouthwash controversy that erupted at Turfway Park last weekend when Tenpins, a top contender in the Kentucky Cup Classic, was ordered scratched because he had been treated with an organic mouthwash substance.

Tobin and Sams were to present their recommendations Tuesday. Frank Shoop, chairman of the commission, and Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said a quick resolution of the controversy was needed to eliminate confusion among horsemen.

Tenpins was scratched after a groom sprayed Air Power into the colt's mouth, ostensibly a violation of the state's four-hour rule, whereby no foreign substances can be introduced into a horse's system. Trainer Don Winfree later said he has routinely used such substances throughout his 31-year training career, and he and Maline said the substances are widely used by trainers throughout Kentucky.

Steve Blanchard, the vice president of sales for Finish Line Horse Products, which makes Air Power, said Tuesday that the treatment is "clean and natural." He said Air Power has never been responsible for a positive test in 20 years of marketing the product.

"Have you ever had a Halls cough drop? It's like that," said Blanchard, when asked how the product works.

Blanchard, who declined to provide sales figures of the medicine, also said that the company tells trainers not to administer Air Power just before a race.

"It's unfortunate someone administered the product in violation of the rules," Blanchard said. "But we tell trainers not to give it to their horses just prior to a race because that is often in violation of the rules in most states."

- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty