Monday, April 6, 2009

Horse Trainer Raises Suspicions with Injections

A year after the fiasco with horse trainer Rick Dutrow and roiding Big Brown, a new trainer is causing concern with similar questionable practices. His timing is perfect with the Kentucky Derby.less than a month away.

Trainer Jeff Mullins was busted Saturday giving Gato Go Win a cough remedy substance in the detention barn before the $200,000 Bay Shore. Per state racing rules, New York racing officials removed the horse from the race. The syringe and substance were confiscated and an investigation is underway. Joseph Mahoney, the spokesman for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said giving any medication to a horse while waiting in the detention barn is against the New York racing rules.

“If a horse needs a product of this order to get to the finish line, then we have a problem with that,” Mahoney said.

According to The New York Times, the substance was labeled as Air Power, an over-the-counter cough formula manufactured by a company called Finish Line. On its Web site, the company claims that one dose will usually stop a horse’s cough all day and that “nothing manufactured and sold by Finish Line will test positive in any race or show jurisdiction in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, England or Saudi Arabia.”

Unfortunately, for the sport of horse racing, the Mullins-trained I Want Revenge won the Wood Memorial later in the day and is a favorite to win the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby in May.

This is not the first time Mullins has run afoul of the rules of the sport, similar to Dutrow. Turns out, Mullins has a history of medication violations in his base of California. Last spring, he was suspended for 20 days by the California Horse Racing Board for use of the Class 2 drug mepivacaine. Per the NYT, “in 2005, one of his horses tested positive for exceeding the limit of total carbon dioxide, which indicates the horse had a ‘milkshake’ — a concoction of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes that helps a horse ward off fatigue. His horses were put under 24-hour surveillance for 30 days.”

A California Horse Racing Board complaint said another horse of Mullins’s had exceeded the regulatory threshold for total carbon dioxide in a blood sample taken before a race at Del Mar in August.

Michael Iavarone, who heads the International Equine Acquisition Holdings (IEAH), which bought 50 percent of I Want Revenge last week, understood that Air Power was not a PED, and that his Derby contender was not part of Mullins’s violations. IEAH, you’ll recall, was the owner of Big Brown last year trained by controversial Rick Dutrow.

IEAH needs to get a clue. Even though they claimed to be roid free last October and "unnecessary medications," are we supposed to believe that IEAH will police themselves? Two years in a row that they have a major stake or outright owned the Derby favorite / winner, but it has come with a considerable price. The scrutiny and the "win at all costs" mentality with a complete disregard for what trainers and others involved with the horses could be doing to get those wins. Why is it that every trainer who is busted with one horse gets a pass with all the other horses he trains? Ignorance really is bliss.

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