09/26/2006 11:00PM

Mullins horse tests positive

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Jeff Mullins had a starter test in excess of the permitted level of the nerve blocker mepivacaine at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting earlier this year, the trainer said on Tuesday. Mullins, the leading trainer at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, will have a hearing before track stewards at a date to be announced.

Mullins was informed of the initial positive in late July. A second test, or "B" sample, recently confirmed the findings of the initial test, according to a California Horse Racing Board official. The positive was found in a post-race test taken from Robs Coin, the runner-up in the seventh race on July 8.

Mullins's attorney, Neil Papiano, said on Tuesday that he has asked for a blood sample to be tested by the University of Kentucky, but that California Horse Racing Board officials have not agreed to his request. Papiano contends that the positive test could have been caused by accidental contamination.

"We want to see if it's the same horse," Papiano said of the test findings.

Mepivacaine, which is banned on race day in every jurisdiction, is listed as a Class 2 drug by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. According to the ARCI, Class 2 drugs "have a high potential to affect performance." Trainers in California that have horses test positive for mepivacaine are subject to a fine and/or suspension. Purses are typically redistributed in cases of drug positives for classes 1, 2, or 3.

Mepivacaine is allowed to appear in post-race tests in levels up to 10 nanograms, according to CHRB rules.

Penalties for mepivacaine have varied. Earlier this year, trainer Steve Asmussen began a six-month suspension after one of his runners in Louisiana tested positive for mepivacaine. Richard Dutrow Jr. served a 60-day suspension for a 2003 mepivacaine positive in New York. Todd Pletcher, the Eclipse Award-winning trainer of 2004 and 2005, filed a lawsuit in New York earlier this year, challenging a 45-day suspension for a mepivacaine positive at Saratoga in 2004.