08/01/2005 11:00PM

Mitchell horses under surveillance


DEL MAR, Calif. - Mike Mitchell, who six times has been the leading trainer at Del Mar, will have his horses under surveillance for the next four weeks after one of his runners recently tested positive for a high level of an alkalizing agent, euphemistically referred to as a milkshake.

Mitchell was cited for the horse Tricky Day, who won the first race at Hollywood Park on July 4 at 5-1. According to a consortium of racetracks and owners and trainers groups that oversees testing for total carbon dioxide, Tricky Day's prerace test from that day came back above the cutoff level of 37 millimoles per liter of plasma. It was the first test in Southern California that exceeded the limit in five months, with more 5,000 horses tested, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, a veterinarian who is the spokesman for the consortium.

The decision was announced late Monday, and was to take effect beginning with Del Mar's races on Wednesday. On days when Mitchell has a runner in a race, through Sept. 1, there will be a security guard at Mitchell's barn 24 hours before that race. Mitchell also is subject to additional surveillance through Sept. 15, according to a release sent out by the consortium.

When similar situations arose at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, horses had to be placed in a security barn 24 hours before a race. There is no adequate security facility at Del Mar, so Mitchell's horses can remain in his barn, but with the round-the-clock security.

"One person will be there all the time, and if there are multiple horses racing that are not in position to be watched by one security guard, we can put in additional security people," Arthur said. "All of it is reimbursed by the trainer, at a minimum cost of at least $450 per day."

Mitchell, in a brief phone interview, said the release spoke for itself. Asked if he felt the consortium had been fair, Mitchell said, "I think they've been fair."

Herrick fined $6,500

In a case that began more than two years ago, trainer Joe Herrick on Monday was fined $6,500 by the California Horse Racing Board because his horse Charming Boy tested positive for an excessive amount of clenbuterol when finishing second in a race at Hollywood Park on May 16, 2003. Charming Boy was ordered disqualified, and the purse redistributed.

Herrick was suspended 30 days and fined $2,500 in 2001 for a medication violation in December 2000 at Hollywood Park.

Asked why the Charming Boy case took more than 26 months to adjudicate, racing board spokesman Mike Marten said new executive director Ingrid Fermin was "asking the same questions, not only of this case, but others."

"There's more than this one case that has taken this long," Marten said, referring to cases involving other trainers.

The cases began when Roy Wood was executive director.