05/23/2003 12:00AM

Mullins maiden winner draws inquiry


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Reacting to complaints largely from rival horsemen, the California Horse Racing Board announced Friday that it was reviewing certain races with significant form reversals, including the second race Wednesday at Hollywood Park.

In the Wednesday race, a former maiden claimer, Flyindownbaylaurel, who had lost her first four starts by a combined 64 1/2 lengths for trainer Jerry Dutton, won a maiden special weight race for California-bred fillies and mares in her first start for trainer Jeff Mullins.

Flyindownbaylaurel, a 3-year-old, was claimed for $32,000 at Santa Anita on April 10 by owner Richard Englander and Mullins. On Wednesday, she won a one-mile turf race by a length in her first start on the surface and her first at a distance longer than a sprint.

Flyindownbaylaurel was 8-1 on the morning-line but was sent off at 7-2 after being made the top selection by at least two public handicappers, including one for the Daily Racing Form.

CHRB spokesman Mike Marten said board members John Harris and Roger Licht and executive director Roy Wood had received complaints about Flyindownbaylaurel's victory.

The board's action drew sharp criticism from Mullins, who said he was asked to appear before Hollywood Park stewards on Thursday to discuss Flyindownbaylaurel's win. He also said that CHRB investigators have searched his barn in recent weeks.

"They had a mass influx of complaints, and they called me in," he said. "They were asking me why I claimed her and why did I run her where I ran her. How much did I bet? I don't bet. I'm not a gambler.

"They've come to my barn and went through my medication. They've gone to the stall and checked the tattoos. It's gotten to the point where it's almost harassment."

Mullins said he claimed Flyindownbaylaurel at the urging of Englander. The filly is by Alphabet Soup out of a Dynaformer mare. Mullins said that Englander had wanted to try Flyindownbaylaurel on turf.

"It took four days to fill the race and they went in 1:38," he said, referring to the realtively slow final time of 1:37.66.

Mullins has been the hottest trainer during the first month of the Hollywood Park meeting. Through Thursday, he had won with 7 of 10 starters and finished second with two other runners. At the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, Mullins finished second with 30 wins, scoring with 32 percent of his starters.

Throughout, Mullins said, he has drawn the attention of CHRB investigators. He said that he has had no medication violations this year with the exception of an excessive amount of bute, a common medication.

"They've had the heat on me since before the San Felipe," Mullins said, referring to the stakes he won in March with Santa Anita Derby winner Buddy Gil. "I've been nice to them, and they just seem to keep coming back. What do you want me to do? I take very good care of my horses. I don't think you could go to any of the horses I've had claimed and say there were in poor health.

"I wish they would just come out and say, 'We're going to put the heat on you for a while.' But don't poke around like I'm some sort of idiot."

In a statement, the board said: "The CHRB routinely reviews races in which horses reverse form to win. While it is not a common practice to issue news releases concerning such reviews, the race Wednesday prompted so much comment that the board considered it necessary to reassure the public of the CHRB's vigilance in such matters."

Pleasantly Perfect will await Del Mar meet

Pleasantly Perfect, winner of the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap last October, will not start at the current Hollywood Park meeting.

Trainer Richard Mandella said he has been disappointed by Pleasantly Perfect's training. A 5-year-old, he has failed to win in two starts this year, finishing third in the San Antonio Handicap and fourth in the Santa Anita Handicap.

"I will back off and start again," Mandella said. "I will point him for Del Mar."

Pleasantly Perfect will be considered for the major stakes for older horses at Del Mar - the $250,000 San Diego Handicap on Aug. 3 and the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 24.

Turf specialist El Cielo retired at 9

El Cielo, a multiple stakes winner who won 14 of 25 starts and $724,729, has been retired, trainer Craig Dollase said on Friday.

El Cielo, a 9-year-old, was a specialist on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita, where he won 10 of 16 starts. While racing for a partnership, El Cielo won four stakes, including three races on the hillside course - the 2000 San Simeon Handicap, the 2000 and 2001 Morvich handicaps, and the 2000 Hollywood Turf Express. In his final start, he won a $62,500 claiming race on the hillside course on Feb. 1.

Dollase said problems with quarter cracks led to El Cielo's retirement. El Cielo left Dollase's Hollywood stable in mid-May. Plans for a retirement home have not been finalized.

Desormeaux briefly back from Japan

Jockey Kent Desormeaux will make a rare appearance at Hollywood Park on Sunday and Monday, returning from Japan, where he is riding in a temporary arrangement.

Desormeaux will ride the three major stakes on Monday with mounts on Touch of the Blues in the Shoemaker Mile, Dublino in the Gamely, and Fly to the Wire in the Laz Barrera Stakes.

Going into this weekend's racing in Japan, Desormeaux had won eight races, according to his agent, Tom Knust.

Knust said that Desormeaux will return to Japan next week but will ride in the United States occasionally in the next month. He is booked to ride Perfect Drift in the Stephen Foster Handicap or Californian Stakes in June. Knust said that Desormeaux will return to California in advance of the Del Mar meeting and is likely to ride the last week or two of the Hollywood meeting.