Let's Look at the Bright Side of Mullins Incident


There have been numerous comments in the media this week vilifying Jeff Mullins, and how the detention barn incident caused a black eye for racing right before the sport’s biggest day.

If this indeed was a case of Mullins simply making a foolish mistake, and that is currently under investigation, there is no denying he should have been aware of the rules that a horse cannot be administered anything in the detention barn other than Lasix. Nothing means just that and there is no other interpretation possible. They don’t call it a monitoring barn for nothing. Mullins claims he made an honest mistake, which may very well be the case. But that is up to others to decide.

Clearly, Mullins was not attempting to get away with anything nefarious, or else he wouldn’t have given Gato Go Win Air Power right in front of two NYRA security officers who were not only watching him do it, but supposedly allowing him to do it, according to Mullins. The typical punishment for this infraction is a fine and the scratching of the horse.

Instead of looking at this incident solely as a black eye for racing, shouldn’t we also put a positive spin on it and say the detention barn system on this occasion worked? Shouldn’t we be telling racing fans and mainstream America: “See, if horses and their handlers are being scrutinized this closely before a race and horses are being scratched because of even minor infractions, doesn’t that show that racing, at least in New York, is doing a good job policing itself before the races? And the rules are the same in California.

Yes, mistakes likely were made beforehand if indeed Air Power was seen being brought into the detention barn and ignored, or if Mullins’ bucket was not searched. But that also is under investigation, and until it is determined what exactly transpired it is pointless to comment on it.

I was at the detention when I Want Revenge arrived at approximately 10:45, which was a slightly early for the ninth race. Gato Go Win, who was in the seventh race, just barely made it in on time for his race. Mullins was right behind I Want Revenge, carrying a bucket filled with all kinds of paraphernalia that one would take into the detention barn. I certainly had no reason to look closely at its contents or notice to what extent it was observed. All I saw and heard was Mullins reporting in, telling the security guard at the entrance gate his last name and which race he was in. The guard checked his sheet and said: “You’re in the back barn, stall 20.” Mullins entered the barn and came out about 10 minutes later and got in his car and drove off.

The procedure is for the person accompanying the horse to log in and give the security officer in the booth his NYRA ID badge number, after which the arrival time is logged in. Once that is completed, another officer is supposed to check everything that is being brought in. Whether that was done, I have no idea (heck, if had known what was going to happen I surely would observed it more carefully, but I was already heading back to my car to warm up). Again, that is being looked into.

But this commentary is not about Mullins’ actions and what he was thinking, and not about whether proper procedures were followed upon his arrival. It is about the steps taken by NYRA following the infraction in the detention barn, which conceptually has been criticized in the past by several trainers.

With so much negativity surrounding racing in the past year, let’s at least attempt to look beyond the act of one person and find the positive factor regarding the sport as a whole. As I said, this was a case where the system worked, and that should not be overlooked. Every little bit helps.

65 Comments

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Tiznowbaby

I understand your position, Steve, but it's hard not to be disgusted with all the drugging in this sport. This is a sport that did not permanantly rule off someone found with cobra venom in their barn.

08 Apr 2009 12:44 PM
Wanda

Well said Steve. The system IS working.

08 Apr 2009 12:48 PM
Cgriff

I thought it was a very positive (no bad pun intended) news item.  The system works!  We are stopping the drugging of horses! (sort of!)

And yet....if Mullin's story of being observed is legit - I would have to agree that its extremely unlikely that he was trying to put anything over on NYRA and the drug testers.  

Which begs the question:  Why didn't the two officials stop him when they saw him place the syringe into Gato's mouth?  I mean - if you know it's totally illegal, and the guy is doing it in front of you - wouldn't somebody say "Hey - stop that?"  

I'd like to hear that the two officials back up Mullin's story before weighing in.  Mullin's is hardly the poster boy for drug free horses - but if what he said happened indeed happened - isn't that somewhat like entrapment?

Thoughts, Steve?

08 Apr 2009 1:07 PM
Helen Wilson

It is great to see that the system is working.

I applaud the stewards and hope we all rally round and support them.

It is disgraceful that Jeff Mullins continues to laugh and lie away his many drug infractions and then just be allowed to continue to train.

Derby time is a big stage and we in the industry have the opportunity to let our actions speak louder than our words for the good of the horse.  Or we can just put another nail in the coffin of horse racing. Anyone want to bet on the outcome?

Signed, New York breeder and race horse owner.

08 Apr 2009 1:08 PM
Jackman

Both parties are at fault.  The NYRA needs to create procedures that are clear and prevent any illusion of cheating. Trainers must follow those guidelines no exceptions.  If not, there should be fines and suspensions for both the NYRA, it's employess and the trainer.

08 Apr 2009 1:20 PM
Steve Haskin

Let me nip this in the bud. I hope this forum is not going to be used to comment ad nauseum what a terrible person Jeff Mullins is and what a disgrace he is to the sport as if I was defending him. Whether he is or not has no bearing on my commentary. I stated emphatically that this piece is not about Mullins. We've read all that. This is about the system that for the most part worked. So, if you need to get your Mullins attacks out of your system, please do it now, because after they become too repetitive or downright vicious our moderators or myself will have to start deleting them. Comments on what the column actually is about would be much more appreciated.

08 Apr 2009 1:20 PM
Dona

Steve, you're too kind and I understand you not wanting to weight in on the merits of Mullins action but today it was announced the Ruler of Dubai's personal horse was recently found postive of steroids. Where does it go, if the Industry doesn't start to severely punish the guilty parties? Want the public to come back and embrace racing like the days of old, then act like any good parent does: say what you mean and mean what you say.    

08 Apr 2009 1:23 PM
Michael Dwyer

I haven't heard anyone discuss the issue of if this "medication" offers an advantage to the horse, if given so close to race time?

08 Apr 2009 1:28 PM
Karen in Texas

Yes, the system is apparently working. As a professional trainer he should have been cognizant of the rules, though. It is really unfortunate for both Mullins and the horse.

08 Apr 2009 1:36 PM
DerbyFan

Nice article Steve.  Hopefully, the system continues to work as it did in this situation.  However, the punishment rarely fits the crime in this industry and shady characters are welcomed back with open arms all too often.  Until the industry starts imposing enormous fines and or penalties, rule breaking will continue taking place.  After all, what's a slap on the wrist to most of the trainers out there today?

08 Apr 2009 1:39 PM
Kelly E.

Well said again Steve.  I think that whatever sort of person Mullins is or isn't is irrelevant here.  If it was Baffert or Pletcher in that detention barn, it would have been no different.  The rules are the rules - though I think the uniformity of the rules is important nationwide.  The security guards not saying anything to Mullins is interesting.  Is it their job to prevent mistakes or mishaps - or is it there job to make sure those who disobey the rules are punished?  Are the "police" (in general) there to protect or punish?  It is an interesting question.  

I guess I would have to say I'd prefer it if the officers would prevent mistakes and protect the public interest (not to mention protect the horse).  Those people who have bet on the horse and those people associated with the horse personally - those are the ones who should be protected by the officers saying, "hey, wait a minute..."  Instead, we have a public outcry and another black eye for our beloved sport.  Yea, Steve, I guess the system worked in a sense...but did it work to our advantage or disadvantage?

08 Apr 2009 1:59 PM
Andrew A.

Mullins paid for his ignorance already.  Gato Go win was scratched and his owners are pissed off at him.  Why didn't the "cops" who saw everything in the bucket stop him.  Could it be that they were more interested in cathing someone?  At what point do we close racetracks and turn them into museums with petting zoos?  Then everyone would would be happy right?

08 Apr 2009 2:06 PM
SSC

The system is suppose to work - why are we surprised it did in this instance? That alone is troubling. If it can be shown he gave anything to IWR in the Gotham and it sure sounds like he is not denying that, the purse should be redistributed. Period.

08 Apr 2009 2:11 PM
jinxsboys1st

This is not the first time Mullins has be caught, he knows all the rules of racing and still pleads ignorance.we the fans do not know what was in the air power syringe it could have been a mixture of several substances, Yes the track security did its  job this time, but horses need to be monitored well before they bring them to the holding barn. Most Medications are administered to the horses four hours before the races like lasix . many different type cocktails also are given within this period of time. Horse racing needs to step up and have horses racing which are free of any race enhancing medications. This goes for Mullins, Dutrow, Baffert , Pletcher as well as the little trainer you may have not heard of. Again yes, the holding barn did what it was intended to do.

08 Apr 2009 2:35 PM
Ironhorse

steve this really isn't a comment on this article but in the future i'd and many old time racing fans would love to see you write a article comparing today's training methods and horses compared to those in the 40's 50' 60's and 70's,80's where horses ran so much  carried unbelieveable weights [compared to today] and yet won so often -what's happened to the Ironhorses like citation, buckpaser, native dancer, Dr Fager,Damascus, kelso . forego, john henry even though these 3 were geldings it was so amazing all the above and many more ran so often and won and today these horses need so much time off and don't seem to be anywhere as near in the same shape as the great horses of yesteryear. I know a lot of the fans reading the blogs and blood horse have no idea how good these horses  were and the top condition the trainers had them in.It just seems like these modern horses are so weak on conditioning compared to those great horses of the past who didn't need 4 to 6 weeks off before they raced again. I'm sure the stud fee money influences the owners but i still say even with all modern medicine,facilities , tech , feed the horses just aren't as good. You obviously know a lot about horses and am sure you know the history  that's why a article about this comparison from a authority from you would enlighten your readers.there will never be a Citation-the year  of 1948 19 out of 20 wins as a 3 yr old. that is more then a  career for most of the horses of today if they ran  3 years!Has the breeding weaken the horses of today?

08 Apr 2009 2:45 PM
longwaytomay

Steve, You are on the ball with this article. What should have have happened did happen. The horse was scratched, and there will now be an investigation. Let the powers that be due their jobs. I understand some people are frustrated because Mullins has a bad and well deserved reputation. However, let the man have his day in court so to speak before you jump to wild conclusions.

08 Apr 2009 2:58 PM
steve in st. louis

In the same vein, why has the human record for the mile (or 1,500 meters) improved so much since Roger Bannister's 1954 run, yet Dr. Fager's 1968 record for the mile still stands for equine athletes?

08 Apr 2009 3:07 PM
Lmaris

Sorry Steve, but if Mullins "clearly wasn't trying to get away with anything", why was he giving his horse ANYTHING in the monitoring barn?

Why didn't he leave the syringe in th bucket which is searched rather than hiding it in his pocket.

I understand defending one's friends, but this is yet another case of someone trying to give his horse an unfair (and possibly unhealthy) advantage.

Mullins is just another in a growing list of people who have bought into the "natural is safe and not drugs" mantra.  Nutraceuticals are not regulated or tested, and should be treated with at least as much caution as prescription or OTC medications.

A lengthy ban should ensue if only to prevent further stupidity.  Trainers MUST be held responsible, especially in this case when the banned substance was administered by the trainer.

08 Apr 2009 3:27 PM
DerbyDay

Steve-- The detention barn is a joke.  If the end result of NY's decision to implement a Detention Barn, is the mere fact that they prevented Jeff Mullins from administering nothing more than a non medicated cough drop- Than I guess it's been worth it.  However, common sense tells me that the stuff we need to worry about might be given the night before????  What does the detention barn do to solve that problem.  I doubt cobra venom needs to be given within 6 hours before a race.

08 Apr 2009 3:30 PM
Lmaris

DONA, as to Sheik Mohammed's horses testing positive, note how he handled the discovery:

1)  It was his staff who discovered the substance in the horse's blood/urine.

2)  HE turned the information over to the FEI.

3)  He declined waiting for a B sample test.

That is how one takes responsibility for a drug positive.  Stand up, admit it, accept punishment.

As to why the human record has fallen but not the horse record...

A)  Humans have only been running timed competitive sports a hundred years or so, while horses much longer.

B)  Training methods and equipment for humans have changed far more dramatically than for horses in that time.

C)  Horses have been selectively bred for speed for hundreds is not thousands of years.  Humans still don't do this, or at least don't admit to it.

08 Apr 2009 3:34 PM
OLDFASHIONED GAL

Do you know how IEAH feels about Mullins allegations? I wonder waht they think about this since they own part of IWR and they are all against using steriods, do you think they will change trainers?

08 Apr 2009 3:46 PM
marc W

I totally admit thinking the game is tilted to an extent because of drugs. As mentioned many times in blogs, I don't believe they have to be illegal. People smoke Salvia legally but go to jail for pot---go figure?

In my earlier days I have seen very few outfits hit high percentage of wins without a small stable full of well bred horses. Now far flung outfits with 1200 starters mostly claimers, can hit in the 25-30% range. I see horses claimed by certain outfits lose at 25-1 for $20K the day of the claim then next start for certain trainers win like a good thing @ 6-5 for 30K. Seeing Hall of Famer's like Van Berg and Jolley not be able to buy a win and horses claimed from them improve. These guys didn't forget how to train.

I won't knock Mullins--why single out somebody? IWR will be completely legal on Derby day as will everyone else-some may have an edge-but it will be legal!

On a note--the only horse thrown out for a positive (Bute) in the Ky Derby was Dancer's Image---the trainer was Lou Cavalaris Jr. I can go on the record saying I knew him and didn't like him.  Saying that, he was one of the hardest working, best trainers I ever saw--he was in every stall each morning stakes horse or cheap claimer. He did things the right way. Knowing him, I say he didn't cheat,  and if he said he didn't administer bute within the prescribed time frame--- I believe him. I also know he wasn't stupid, a cheapskate maybe, but not stupid or a cheat.

Perception can be worse than the facts.

Maybe these super trainers are "that good" even if I have my doubts?????

08 Apr 2009 4:24 PM
Brian A.

Thank you Mr. Haskin!!  That's exactly what we need more of in this sport, positive analysis, I agree with you completely!

08 Apr 2009 4:41 PM
Cgriff

Steve,

Gee - I didn't think I was ragging on Mullins at all - I was more interested in the question of why two NYRA officials didn't stop him from administering Air Power if they knew the rules?  

For the system to work - it has to work on every level.  To allow a trainer (mistakenly or deliberately) administer a medication in the detention barn and then call him on it after you've stood there and watched him do it doesn't seem - at the very least - proactive.  

That's why I'd like to know if what Mullins said was verified by others.  Were there two NYRA guys present when he did this?  It puts an entirely different angle on the story, IMO.

As another poster indicated - the people who bet on that horse and the owners who entered it were cheated out of the horse's participation - not only by the trainer's use of the med but also by the two NYRA officials who allegedly just stood by and watched him do it.

Shouldn't any system with the welfare of the horse and the integrity of the game be proactive as well as reactive in its administration?

Isn't that a fair question?

08 Apr 2009 5:02 PM
Karen in Indiana

I wasn't going to write, mainly because I couldn't think of anything that wouldn't violate what Steve asked for. But there are 3 articles on the home page right now that address this issue in one form or another. Mullins was caught, his horse was scratched & there is an investigation. His response showed more that he was sorry he was caught than any acknowledgement he did something he shouldn't have. Sheik Mohammed, on the other hand, showed the highest class in how he dealt with a reported violation. He told his people to turn it in and he is taking responsibility for it because he owns the horse, and it all does go back to the owners - they control the money and who is in charge of the horse. And there is another owner who the system is working on. Paragallo's farm was investigated and there were found horses who have been neglected to the point of abuse. I hope the system continues to work and this owner held accountable in a way that will maybe prevent it from happening somewhere else. None of these systems are perfect because people aren't perfect, but these three examples show that it can be done in a way that will make a difference.

08 Apr 2009 5:17 PM
Steve Haskin

Dona, who said Mullins shouldnt be punished?

Michael, Air Power has all the ingredients of basically a cough lozenge, with menthol and eucalyptus. It keeps the air passages open.

SSC, who is surprised the system worked?

Ironhorse, you cant compare horses of the 40s to the horses of today. They were bred much sounder. Horses today are babied. Are they babied because theyre unsound or are they unsound because theyre babied? I dont know if the tail is wagging the dog or not.

LMaris, he was giving the horse something he says he gives all the time. On the ad for the product, Michael Matz endorses it, saying he uses it all the time. Did he give it out of ignorance or arrogance? I have no idea.

Derbyday, this is just about the detention barn. What trainers give the day before is a whole other issue.

Oldfashionedgal, IEAH obviously is not happy, mainly because they dont this to take away from the horse. They have no control over who trains the horse, so I'm sure its frustrating to a degree.

08 Apr 2009 5:20 PM
TerriV

Steve, You present a well balanced, positive perspective on the situation.  Whenever rules, regulations and procedures are put in place there is always a weak link in the chain.  Usually it's people who didn't learn what they are suppose to be doing or don't care or are slacking off at a particular moment.  There are two things about it that bother me.  One is the careless, unconcerned attitude of Mullins about the incident and the other is that people on the fringes of the sport of horseracing will only hear/read the words horse-trainer-drugs and immediately be put off once again, never believing that most horse people love and care for these animals.  So often it's the perception that matters not the reality.

08 Apr 2009 5:45 PM
joe

Steve, It seems that even with improved security/oversight in racing, too many top trainers-and owners- still feel they can get away with outrageous behavior.  Various tracks can impose regulations, but what do they mean if punishment lacks teeth?  And shouldn't the regulations be consolidated under one governing arm?  I just received my  Bloodhorse issue of April 4th., with the final turn statement by NTRA's Alex Waldrop on progress.  It NOW seems sadly outdated with ALL of the breaking (bad) news from New York racing.

08 Apr 2009 6:10 PM
TouchStone Farms

This simply is not the forum to sit in judgement on anyone! What should be taken into careful consideration is how effective was detention barn in this instance 50%, 75% 90%? Can we further improve on the exact same circumstances if the same infraction were to occur on a different day with a different trainer? After three decades training stakes colts and a significant amount of that time having been spent in detention awaiting races I can say that it is obvious that the security people did their job and should be applauded, as well as the system that is currently in place. When a horse arrives at detention they are generally accompanied by a groom/trainer, they bring with them Blankets water pail&feed tub and generally have their brushes,shampoo etc. If they are in the night before even the feed they will eat is gone through by hand to see if something appears that shouldn't. So before anyone goes off half cocked thinking they know what happened why don't we all applaud the secure environment these  horses were racing out of and wait until the authorities aquire the real answers for the rest.

08 Apr 2009 6:16 PM
longwaytomay

Steve, I know this is off subject, but I hope they send Ernie Paragallo to jail for a long time. What a piece of human scum. I don't want to hear any apoligies or excuses because there are none. Makes me want to puke.

08 Apr 2009 6:20 PM
For Big Red

TO STEVE: While I appreciate your effort to highlight positive aspects of the Gato Go Win incident, I have a terrible time being cheery. I simply can't escape the feeling that it's all too little, too late. The industry's "powers that be" have largely ignored the sport's problems for far too long, and the wealth of trust racing once enjoyed among the public is all but used up.

I suppose jonny-come-lately attempts to improve ethics, safety and oversight in the sport are better than doing nothing at all. And I suppose the very fact that the Mullins, Paragallo, Stewart, Biancone, and Sheikh Mohammed incidents all are prominent 4/8/09 news stories is a step in the right direction. At least we're not completely blind to such behavior anymore.

I also have to admit that last weekend we did see very welcome fruits of pre-race inspections by official vets when The Pamplemousse was scratched. Still, too much emotional scar tissue has built up in me over the years for those bits of positive news to rebuild my trust. Rightly or wrongly, I can't help but wonder. Did his connections know of the colt's injury, and were they planning to race him anyway? Lack of trust makes me conclude the answer is yes. See, we in the public have no choice except to take what trainers tell us about the condition of their horses on blind faith. Then, when something tragic happens, it's so easy for the trainer, jockey and racing insiders to close ranks and say the horse "took a bad step." Everyone cries for five minutes and then it's on to the next race.

Lack of trust makes me wonder...for every Mullins, 'Mousse, Paragallo and Stewart incident that's uncovered, how many never come to light. Yes, the steps being taken now are welcome. That's the great tragedy of the Mullins incident, isn't it. As the industry is finally, at long last, taking some steps to rebuild its reputation, his terminally thoughtless (if not worse) actions only make the climb back that much harder for everyone.

I don't care who may or may not have been watching him. I don't care if he and other trainers use Air Power all the time. I don't care why he uses it. I don't care if it's as innocuous as a sugar lump. The NY regs say nothing gets administered in the detention barn except Lasix. Period. The trainer is responsible for everything that goes on, in, or near one of his horses. Mullins owes all those people trying to clean up the industry/sport a public apology. If Air Power is so innocuous, why doesn't he also take this opportunity to step up to the plate and explain his reasons for using it just before a race?

08 Apr 2009 6:21 PM
fb0252

I'd go a step more and say racing needs to commence to defend itself against the chorus of constant bashing, primarily by well intentioned but uninformed  people hallucinating as to at what goes on the back stretch, and that is charitable.  I like the post questioning why so rabid against therapeutic drugs.

08 Apr 2009 6:21 PM
parsixfarms

Steve, you state that "[t}he typical punishment for this infraction is a fine and a scratch of the horse."  As an owner in NY, I am not aware of another case of a trainer administering anything to a horse in the detention barn, so what's the basis for you saying that a fine is the "typical" penalty for this sort of behavior.  And is that what you think the penalty should be if Mullins indeed did administer something in the detention barn?  If that's all the penalty is, where's the deterrent effect from just another slap on the wrist?

08 Apr 2009 8:17 PM
KEVIN

I agree with your article Steve, the system is starting to work in regards to drug testing.

Sheik Mohammed demonstrated remarkable responsibility and his actions can only be admired by all of us.

Trainer Jeff Mullins, we can only wait and see what the outcome of the investigation reveals. One can not condemn or support him at this point for we only have his explanation.

All of the thoroughbred world should be embarrassed by the Ernie Paragallo situation, especially NYRA and NYS Racing & Wagering Board. Hopefully they will now act against him and Paraneck Stables.

He has not held a owners license since 2005. He has hidden behind his daughters names in all ownership situations. It is well known that his connections (he) are slow to pay bills owed. I could go on and on but it is a fact NYS authorities have constantly turned a blind eye to his actions.

If his trainers failed to act with a "machine mentality" in regards to his horses they were dismissed and/or left in disgust. Thereafter he or his minions would malign the trainer(s). His actions, words, insinuations, leaving a malignancy in any words offered by the trainer in explanation/defense.

There is not punishment enough for the years of hurt he has inflicted on the countless horses that were under his "ownership" / custody.

One thing ALL OF RACING should unite and deny him and HIS STABLE the ability to ever know the thrill and pleasure of racing a thoroughbred. That is not a right is a gift, a responsibility. If the officials do not act, at the least he should be shunned by the thoroughbred community. Money talks but it should not, it must not be able buy the cover of plain

decency.      

08 Apr 2009 8:28 PM
AlexH

It would seem to me as though this security process BARELY worked.  I would think the goal would be to stop the administration of anything illegal,  rather than "catch it" after the fact.  Yes,  it's a step in the right direction,  but the investigation into how the Air Power and syringe got into the barn in the first place seems to be vital to further and more effective enforcement.  Just because the bottle says Air Power doesn't mean that's what it is,  and I'd like to know if the contents matched the label before deciding how to punish those involved.

08 Apr 2009 9:15 PM
Tread

I am going to have to disagree that the system is "working".  Yes he got caught and others have gotten caught and punished, but the "system" still seems to be lacking uniformity and full disclosure of violation details.

Yes, in this case we got most/all of the information it would seem.  But when it comes to drug testing, there seems to be a real lack of information AND uniformity about what is tested for, what the tolerance levels are, and how badly violations exceeded those levels.  All you ever see is "Mullins suspended for TCO2 overage" or whatever the case may be.

It may be proper to classify the publicity of this incident as "starting to move in the right direction", but it is beyond comprehension that COMPLETE details of all drug testing (what is tested for and how each horse tested) are not made readily available to the public, and that there is no uniformity from state to state.

It's the horse player who gets screwed when racing tried to sweep stuff like this under the rug or release a vague blurb about a suspension in the hopes that it will not scare people away from betting on rigged.  There is no excuse for not having a uniform testing policy and the FULL release of ALL data to the betting public, and until that happens, I see no need to pat the "system" on the back.

08 Apr 2009 9:16 PM
Paula Higgins

O.k. let's wait and see what the investigation comes up with. Air Power isn't steroids, even if it is a banned substance. If the Horse Racing Powers That Be continue to make people abide by the rules, it will eventually become a reality for all trainers and owners. Let's give the system a chance to work. As for the person who shipped sick horses and then had them killed, I hope he is banned for life from racing and goes to prison. He would never in a million years want me on that jury if it goes to trial.

08 Apr 2009 9:27 PM
Matthew W

When a horse gets claimed for 20K then surfaces two weeks later for 40K with the lead jock up, and even though he was 7-1 and lost the 20K race, he's 3/5 in the 40K race and wins by seven with a 15+ point raise on his career best beyer#...THEN when he's claimed away from the trainer the odds go way up and he runs up the track....Didn't we go through this last year??? I mean at least act like you've been there/get an Ibea/ER idea!

08 Apr 2009 10:01 PM
Rggc

Kevin, I love your response. I am just a fan of racing and the first time I layed eyes on Paragallo, I didn't like or trust him. I agree he should never be involved with racing ever again. I have loved racing since I was 10years old and I would give my right arm to have the pleasure of owning a racehorse. I would never mistreat any animal like this guy did.

As far as Steve's article, yes the system is working, but it better keep working or this sport is going to be regulated by outsiders who are not going to be as easy to work with as the folks in the industry and alot of people aren't going to be too happy when that day comes.

08 Apr 2009 10:05 PM
For Big Red

TO fb0252: The only way racing can defend itself is to act forcefully and without pulling any punches to police itself in every way possible. The clock is ticking and the sport/industry is running out of time.

08 Apr 2009 10:55 PM
For Big Red

From a news article, Steve Blanchard, the vice president of sales and marketing for Finish Line, said Jeff Mullins misused the product when he administered Air Power in the detention barn to a horse about to race.

Blanchard is quoted as saying, "My position is to train all of our employees in presentation and explanation of all our products. They have all been trained that you tell your trainers not to bring our product into a detention barn. I do believe that even without our direction, all trainers know that."

08 Apr 2009 11:01 PM
Dona

Mullins' actions says he won't be punished. He obviously knew the worst would be public outcry and a wink and a nob here and there, otherwise it would not have happened. If anyone believes he didnot know you couldn't or shouldn't administer medicine of any type in the holding barn is kidding themselves and are true believers in the Easter Bunny. A trainer of his experience knows what he's doing and I for one believe it was simply a case of catch me if you can while I pretend to be doing something above board. Isn't the idea of crooks acting like nothing is going on or abnormal, something that's familiar to anyone? Haven't we all watched enough movies to see how easy it is to fool someone or everyone? You don't need to go to a movie, just watch the news on a daily basis.

You totally missed the point about the Sheik, sure he took responsibility for it, what, that makes it okay? Sounds familiar, "mistakes were made" and inquiries will ensue, let's move on and not dwell in the past. Do the deed and if you get caught, just own up to it and everyone will admire your actions.

Call me old fashioned but I still blame someone for doing wrong, because it was wrong!

To say the system is working is a laugh. If the system was working, Mullins would have been stopped at the door, asked about the contents of his bucket and so on. The news would be reporting "Mullins was reported to have medication in his possession that was not appropriate and the articles were handed over to the stewards for review", the holding barn staff was just doing their job.

What I find interesting is that you saw an incident and thought nothing of it. What, it's not your job? You didn't know the guards were supposed to inquire about the contents in his bucket? Didn't want to get involved? You couldn't say, hey Jeff what ya hiding in the bucket, just kidding. Maybe someone would have taken their job more seriously. The fact that they observed him in action is no credit to them. That's their job. He should have been stopped at the door. Then, you could say the system is working.      

08 Apr 2009 11:14 PM
The Rock

Steve,

I've noticed some posts that have mentioned about the possibility of the trainer's administering something to the horses the night prior to entering the detention barn. Aren't these horses tested regardless once they're in the detention barn or sometime after they have just raced?

08 Apr 2009 11:21 PM
john becerra

i am from california and as an avid horse player and fan of the sport i am very disgusted yet very familliar with jeff mullins.....the guy walks around the 3 race tracks like if he owned them....like hes unstoppable.....well i say lets put a stop to it...NOW...what r we waiting for how many more chances does he get...i understand he is not the only one....but yet his name always pops up....we have a local columnist from the la times who is the only one with the courage to bring some light to the situation...in case the east coasters did not know there was a time in tj simmers column in the la times were he called the horse player idiots for betting on horses.... i understand where steve haskins is coming from yet this guy does not deserve the benefit of the doubt ..the chrb has dropped the ball on this guy to many times and now im pleading to the nyra..please please dont drop the ball ....he is a cheater and will continue to cheat until the hammer drops on him......

08 Apr 2009 11:36 PM
needler in Virginia

Actually, AlexH, "barely working" is a damn sight better than not working at all. We all knew that the problems racing has were not going away easily or quickly, and just because the general public doesn't like the face of racing right now does NOT mean racing will snap to attention, apologize, and do everything the "right way" in an instant. Changes take time, but NYRA and the KHRC and the California folks (sorry....I don't remember ALL the initials!!) and racing commissions all over the country  have implemented changes that ARE cracking down on the drug jerks, be they trainers, vets or the idiot owner who was stopped from using a black felt tip pen to cover a white spot inside his horse's nostril because he said it was "ugly" (honest to God, I heard him say it!). As far as I'm concerned, any control is better than none, and, in the case of drugs, a LOT of control is better than a little.

So here we are pissing all over Mr Mullins, and quite rightly.....he really has no excuse for "not knowing". Thank goodness someone was doing his job and noticed what Mullins did. Better that than just ignoring it! Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.... not fast enough or large enough for me, but this is better than nothing ..........don't you think?

08 Apr 2009 11:56 PM
Bellwether

tighten the SCREWS on the CHEATING or KILL the game...we have seen the lies & cheating going on in our goverment ALSO...we the people are getting FED UP!!!...CLEAN THE KINGS CLOTHES UP NOW!!!...good work to NYRA...

09 Apr 2009 12:51 AM
CCallman

Kafkaesque!  Are we saying this stuff was RIGHT IN THE BUCKET?  And then it was almost missed?  Are we brain dead or what.  Only  way to say we are actually being serious about drug policy is to install airport style security.  In addition everyone gets patted down.  Forget the just the detention barn, this has to be done 34/7.  Heck, amatures can make birds fly out of their shirt sleaves and rabbits appear in empty hats.  The system is working? Paleese!

09 Apr 2009 2:09 AM
August Song

Mr. Haskin, you make an excellent point that the system that, was set up by NYRA with the detention barns, worked. Some further tweaking, or adjustment in the system might be in order. Did the detention barn officials who saw Muilins have the capacity to just observe, or to be able "to police" and give direct indisputable orders? There is a major difference I believe, and  something that is probably being clarified now.

Air Power, (and we are not certain that it was solely Air Power in that syringe), may not be just "a cough drop," as Mullins was quoted as saying. In addition to being a breathing enhancer, it may facilitate the retention and creation of red blood cells. Baking soda seemed rather innocuous at one time, too, didn't it? Mullins has proven to be a known drug cheat with his horses in the past. The system worked this time but, we need to stop pandering over and over, to the same people who continue to test the limits of how far they can go, before enough is enough.

09 Apr 2009 2:21 AM
Dennis A

This is really pitiful, to be the trainer and not know the rules- Please. As for the guards aren't they there to stop those things from happening? I'm old school--there should be no drugs period end of story. If a horse needs drugs it is not fit to run. Break the rule and the hammer comes down,you get a serious reprimand. That cobra drug thing should of resulted in permanent suspensions for both the trainer and the vet. What goes on in horse racing today is symptomatic of our society today shortcut,shortcut, shortcut.

09 Apr 2009 2:34 AM
Hawkeye

Every time an event occurs it seems that the media jumps on one band wagon or another.  I wasn't there and neither were most of you.  We are always so willing to immediately put the blame on someone or something without being fully informed.  We are just learning the hows and whys of making racing better and safer.  Everyone wants a piece of it but are those who have the pen and those in charge of seeing it through really as knowledgeable as they should be?  "Look before you leap" applies here.  Don't be so sure that what you read is really what occurred the way in which it was written.  We tend to make mountains out of mole hills before we have the information correctly.  To make things absolutely clear we should ban the Lasix too.  Doesn't anyone think that a horse needing to race on Lasix has a problem and maybe should not be racing for health reasons?  In my experience, when a doctor asks a patient what medications they are taking, the patient only thinks of prescription medications and forgets the over the counter ones. It never occurs to the patient that omitting the non-prescription medications could adversely effect his health.  To make it very clear the physician needs to ask "What prescribed and not prescribed medications including herbals, vitamins etc. are you taking?" With thoroughbreds constantly moving from track to track there should be a short orientation to specific rules and regulations of the receiving track given to trainers and other personnel responsible for the horse. Leave no doubt in the human mind as to what can be given and what cannot. I just hope no one comes up with some new technical advance that states peppermints can adversely effect the outcome of a race.  

09 Apr 2009 6:23 AM
Stanley Marcinkowski, Plowville,Pa

All racetracks must have pre-race security detention barns especially when on Dec 8 John Veitch Ky state steward and former trainer of Alydar admitted using cobra venom in Alydar

09 Apr 2009 7:00 AM
Harp

Rather than debate about who gave what to whom and when, isn't the simplest solution is to just BAN all race day medications?  The story is that if a horse needs cough medicine (or Lord knows what else) to get through a race, it probably shouldn't be racing that day or the next few, should it?

Yes, I live over the rainbow, but I dare to dream that someday, American racing will get it right, once and for all.  As long as fuzzy logic debates continue about withdrawal times, what's illegal, what's therapeutic, etc., nothing will get done and there won't be positive coverage.  That doesn't sell papers, magazines, podcasts or generate tune-in.

09 Apr 2009 7:27 AM
eyeswideopen

As anyone who has raced in NY knows, they do check anything carried in at monitoring barn check-in, but they do not pat you down.  Jeff Mullins was with Rick Dutrow's people and they certainly should know the rules.  As to the guards watching him administer the Air Power, its not their place to stop anything like this, just to report it to their superiors.  As to Ernie Paragallo, he has already transferred all racing stock into his daughters' names so his business can proceed no matter what is done to him, makes him look even guiltier in my book. He and all his family need to be censored by the entire racing community, he knew what was going on, he is a total control freak, why do you think he changes trainers like he changes socks, no one can stand to have him looking over their shoulder 24/7. And as far as the Dr Stewart deal, his  5 year ban has been upheld and to a vet, that is basically a lifetime, just equate it to the mark up on dispensed medication: $25 bottle of Lasix = 10,5cc shots at $20 each, kind of like doing the math in dog years.

09 Apr 2009 8:14 AM
For Big Red

TO STEVE: In a USA Today article this morning entitled "Separate horse racing incidents draw criticism, investigations," Arthur Hancock was quoted as follows:

"Our livelihood depends upon the public perception of our industry," [Hancock] said Thursday in Lexington, Ky. "Anything that happens that takes away from that good, positive energy is killing our livelihood, so I'm extremely disappointed."

Steve, Mr. Hancock has it exactly right. Everyone in or connected to the sport suffers due to the actions of people like Mullins and Paragallo. That's what I was getting at in my earlier post above.

Sure, positive improvements shouldn't be overlooked. However, neither should the damage caused by incidents like these be under-estimated. The industry's decades-long history of hiding, ostrich-like, from its critical problems must end.

09 Apr 2009 1:29 PM
Karen in Texas

August Song---You state "it may facilitate the creation and retention of red blood cells" in your 4/9/09 2:21 A.M. post in reference to Air Power. Please list your source material for me. Thanks.

09 Apr 2009 3:06 PM
DerbyDay

Jeff Mullins made a very rookie mistake that should not be tolerated.  Air Power would not have made any difference in the potential outcome of the race.  However, it was a violation of a long standing rule and someone who is training the Derby favorite definitely should have known better.  Every other trainer who races in NY can abide by the simple rules, why not JM?  If he makes a simple, yet costly mistake like that...what other mistakes are being made???

09 Apr 2009 4:22 PM
subber

The system is working until the guilty party is punished. I want revenge or at least some justice.

10 Apr 2009 12:07 AM
BANBIANCONE

Another apropos "why would I?" Mullins incident:  He received a 90-day suspension (of which he was to serve no less than 20-days) stemming from a 2006 mepivacaine case adopted by the California Horse Racing Board.  According to a 1/25/08 Bloodhorse article, "Mullins steadfastly maintained his innocence after a gelding in his care, Robs Coin, was found to have tested in excess of the regulatory threshold level for mepivacaine, a local anesthetic commonly used in equine veterinary procedures. It is a Class II violation of CHRB medication rules."  Mullins defense (through his attorney):  "He was a perfectly healthy horse; he would not have needed mepivacaine."

10 Apr 2009 3:23 AM
Karen in Texas

August Song---Would really like to see your sources on the Air Power effects statement.

10 Apr 2009 10:46 AM
Wanda

Karen in Texas I with you on that one. I have used that product when my husband and I trained racehorses and we never ever thought for a minute that it did anything more than what it stated on the syringe. Furthermore we NEVER had a bad test using any of the products out there for use race day.

10 Apr 2009 1:15 PM
Karen in Texas

Wanda---Yeah, facts are facts. I'm trying to get this person to show me how he arrived at such a definitive statement. Notice how there has been no reply so far. This unfortunate situation was negative enough without unsubstantiated medical claims.

10 Apr 2009 1:50 PM
Wanda

I don't want people to think I agree with what he did in the test barn but as I said on another site, air power is like taking Buckley's. I'm sure they took samples from the horse but don't state that there may have been another substance in the air power. Let's wait and see how this play's out before making all these claims that are unsubstantiated.

10 Apr 2009 3:54 PM
Karen in Texas

August Song---I'm making one more attempt. Please show me your source material in regard to your statement about the effects of Air Power. Thanks.

11 Apr 2009 11:30 AM
Matthew W

Air Power is for blowing out foam (caused by being exited/having tongue tied--its a better way than the traditional wet towell) I consider doing this a FAIR edge since it benefits the HORSE/ATHLETE--I'm CERTAIN Jeff Mullins would not care one bit if everyone else uses it--again, this works to benefit the horse! Mullins is cocky because Mullins is good--Jeff Mullins has won at every level in this sport and now he has The Derby Favorite! Jeff Mullins is a guy who always wants to win/tries AND WORKS for the edge/I believe has gone over the edge at times---The Aqueduct incident was NOT one of those times, really--everyone should clear out/dry out their horses's mouths! Mullins should've said that--instead of whining in The Big Apple--c'mon--be tough! AND be glad you brought that other horse, less I Want Revenge gets the Air-scratch

12 Apr 2009 7:24 AM
Golden Gate

I am just getting started in the race horse business as an owner and breeder. Already I have run across at least one trainer that I have asked not to give my horse anything unless it is for pain before first calling me. Unfortunately w/o calling me he has administered a number of substances (they are legal but are still drugs).

It is like trainers can be quite arrogant especially with new owners in the business. I spoke to a friend and she told me "Well welcome to the race horse business!"

I told her I thought it was wrong and she agreed but said basically well what can you do?

And she is actually on my state thoroughbred board 0-:

16 Apr 2009 7:19 PM

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