01/25/2008 12:00AM

Mullins appealing 90-day ban


Trainer Jeff Mullins will appeal a 90-day suspension for an excessive level of the anesthetic mepivacaine found in one of his starters at Hollywood Park in 2006, his attorney, Neil Papiano said Friday.

The California Horse Racing Board announced the penalty on Friday.

Papiano said he intended to appeal the decision before the ban is scheduled to begin on Feb. 15.

Pending the appeal, Mullins was suspended 90 days, but an administrative law judge, David Rosenman, recommended that 70 days be stayed if Mullins does not violate any racing board rules during a one-year probationary period. Rosenman's opinion was adopted by the racing board, which can adopt, modify, or reject an administrative law judge's findings.

Mullins declined to comment on the ruling, referring comments to Papiano.

The excessive amount of mepivacaine was found in a postrace urine test taken from Rob's Coin, the second-place finisher in the seventh race at Hollywood Park on July 8, 2006.

Papiano said on Friday that neither Mullins nor his veterinarian administered mepivacaine to Rob's Coin. Papiano said that during hearings in the case that other veterinarians who treated Rob's Coin when he was in the care of other trainers in Southern California "never had mepivacaine."

"The evidence said that in order to use mepivacaine you have to be a vet because you have to inject in the right place," Papiano said. "There is no evidence that Jeff did anything untoward with this horse."

Mepivacaine is listed as a Class 2 drug, and is allowed to appear in postrace tests in levels up to 10 nanograms, according to racing board rules.