04/18/2009 11:00PM

N.Y. board suspends Mullins for seven days


The New York State Racing and Wagering Board suspended trainer Jeff Mullins on Sunday for seven days and fined him $2,500 for administering the medication Air Power to Gato Go Win prior to the colt's scheduled start in the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct on April 4. The Aqueduct stewards scratched the horse from the race.

The suspension was reduced from 15 days for Mullins waiving his right of appeal.

Mullins will begin serving the suspension on May 3, the day after he is scheduled to saddle I Want Revenge in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. After victories in the Gotham and Wood Memorial, I Want Revenge figures to be among the favorites for the Derby.

Mullins received the penalties for violating the rules of the New York Racing Association's race-day security barn. Under those rules, no medication other than Lasix is permitted to be administered, and no oral dose syringes are permitted in the barn. Mullins, who normally races in Southern California, said that he was unaware of these rules and that nobody stopped him from bringing the medication or syringe into the barn. He also said that two security guards watched him administer the medicine and didn't stop him.

"With respect to the NYRA detention barn, I relied on my only other personal experience in New York" - the 2005 Breeders' Cup - "where the security procedures in place provided for a thorough review prior to entry into the race-day security barn," Mullins said in a statement issued by his attorney, Karen Murphy. "If there was the slightest question of whether or not something was appropriate, that item was prohibited. No items that I brought into the NYRA detention barn on April 4 were questioned after the required examination by NYRA personnel. Is that an excuse? No. Did I have a reasonable expectation that 'security' would have given me a heads up? Yes."

Mullins maintains that his oral administration of Air Power to Gato Go Win did not violate New York rule 4043.2, which states in part that substances such as antibiotics, vitamins, electrolytes, and other food supplements as long as they are administered orally and as long as they do not contain any other drug or by their nature, exhibit drug-like actions or properties, may be administered up until race time.

"The product administered to Gato Go Win fits squarely within that rule; however, the New York stewards apparently disagree and I accept their decision," Mullins said. "To put an end to this unfortunate event, I take responsibility for the infraction and accept the penalty imposed. I have dedicated my life to caring for Thoroughbred racehorses. I owe it to I Want Revenge, his owners, the racing fans, and, indeed, the entire racing industry to end this distraction now."

Air Power, which acts like cough medicine, contains honey, apple cider, vinegar, aloe vera, menthol, oil of eucalyptus, lemon juice, and ethyl alcohol, according to the manufacturer.

Although the penalty will not affect Mullins's ability to prepare I Want Revenge for any of the Triple Crown races, New York State Racing and Wagering Board chairman John D. Sabini said he believes the board came down hard on Mullins.

"Trainers who wish to participate in New York racing are responsible for knowing our race day rules and our medication rules," Sabini said in a statement. "These sanctions should send a clear message that ignorance will never wash as an excuse. I applaud the stewards for scratching Gato Go Win when they did. This horse was flown all the way to New York from California for a single race. As a result of what he did on April 4, Mr. Mullins is learning the hard way that there are tough consequences for not being more familiar with the rules of New York."