05/26/2010 11:00PM

Mullins granted stay of suspension


A Superior Court judge in California granted a stay to trainer Jeff Mullins on Thursday that will allow Mullins to return to training until the court can conduct a June 1 hearing into the circumstances surrounding a 30-day suspension issued to the trainer by the California Horse Racing Board.

The stay was granted by Judge Yuri Hoffman of California Superior Court in San Diego. Mullins filed a lawsuit in the court on May 14 alleging that the racing board violated his due process rights during the investigation that resulted in the suspension, which began on May 9.

"I look forward to being back in the courtroom on Tuesday and am very grateful to return to the job I love so much this weekend," Mullins said in a statement distributed by his publicist.

Mullins was issued the suspension earlier this year after a horse he trained tested positive for an excessive level of total carbon dioxide in the blood following a race on Aug. 3, 2008. Mullins had appealed the initial ruling, leading to the delay in serving the suspension.

Tests are conducted on racehorses for total carbon-dioxide levels in blood in order to detect the pre-race use of alkalinizing agents, which are thought to help horses stave off fatigue.

The Aug. 3 violation occurred when Mullins was serving a one-year probation issued by the board for an earlier positive for the banned painkiller mepivacaine. As a result, the board said at the time that it issued the 30-day suspension that it was exploring whether to suspend Mullins an additional 70 days for the probation violation.

A ruling by the Superior Court in Mullins's favor would almost certainly lead the state racing board to drop any effort to enforce any additional penalties because of the probation violation.

Mike Marten, a spokesperson for the board, said that the board had not yet received the court order of the stay, but that they were aware that the stay had been granted.

"There's nothing we can do about it right now," Marten said. "It's in the court's jurisdiction."

The racing board will be represented by the deputy attorney general in San Diego during the June 1 hearing, Marten said.