02/10/2005 12:00AM

Milkshake brings sanctions for Mullins


All horses trained by Jeff Mullins entered to race at Santa Anita for the next 30 days must go to a detention barn 24 hours before their races, the result of one of Mullins's horses testing positive for an excessive amount of an alkaline agent last month. The sanction was disclosed Thursday by a consortium of Santa Anita, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, and the California Thoroughbred Trainers.

Dr. Rick Arthur, a veterinarian who is on the board of the Oak Tree Racing Association and is the spokesman for the consortium, said action was taken after the Mullins-trained Puppeteer was found to have a high level of bicarbonates following his second-place finish in the San Marcos Handicap on Jan. 22.

According to Arthur, a second trainer has also had a positive test during this Santa Anita meet, but that trainer - whose name and runner have yet to be released - is, at this point, subject only to extra surveillance at his barn.

Sanctions can range from surveillance to quarantine to refusal of a trainer's entries, depending on the number of violations, according to a Santa Anita house rule that was sent to trainers in the stall applications for this meeting. The house rule will stay in effect until the state takes over testing later this year.

"The circumstances lead us to believe that the second trainer is a different situation," Arthur said. "It's not anyone we've had contact with before, and he's cooperating 100 percent. We're going to review his test samples. He's not off the hook."

The current testing is being carried out and paid for by Santa Anita in the hopes of eliminating so-called "milkshakes," a euphemism for alkalizing agents that are believed to stave off fatigue in a racehorse. Arthur said both trainers were cited for one incident each.

When asked about the quarantine, which began Wednesday, Mullins said, "They're treating us fair."

"We're working through it," Mullins said. "They have paid for some testing for us. We'll be fine. Santa Anita has been helpful. They want to figure it out as much as we do.

"He was barely over," Mullins said, referring to Puppeteer's test.

Mullins acknowledged last month that he was informed of two alleged positive tests for bicarbonates last year at Hollywood Park.

A horse is considered to have tested positive with a reading of 37 millimoles per liter of plasma. The horses of both trainers who have been sanctioned at this meet had readings above 37, but below 39, Arthur said.

According to George Haines, Santa Anita's general manager, every horse entered to race at Santa Anita this meet has been tested for alkalizing agents.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen