Monday, 6 April 2009

Mullins in the Detention barn (sounds good, but isn’t)

Jeff Mullins, trainer of hot Derby prospect I Want Revenge, was caught inside the Aqueduct detention barn with a syringe on Saturday, the Thoroughbred Times reports. Mullins was forced by the stewards to scratch Gato Go Win from the Bay Shore Stakes after he tried to administer an above-the-counter drug to the horse. All other Mullins starters, including impressive Wood Memorial winner I Want Revenge, were allowed to proceed. The infraction, technically only a violation of detention barn rules, will also be subject to a stewards review during this week.

Tough, isn't it? Think about what the Hong Kong Jockey Club or JRA would do to a repeat offender caught with a syringe in a detention barn. Or, for that matter, to a trainer who blamed bettors for “crying about losing a $2 bet“ after being caught cheating. Any racing jurisdiction worth its salt would ban this trainer for at least a year from running any horses at their tracks, and formally warn off connections of all horses registered to his barn. In the US, the whole affair will barely reach slap-on-the-wrist proportions. In my opinion, it doesn't even matter if the substance was legal, what part of detention barn will Mullins pledge he is too stupid to understand?

How could any of this smell fishy to fans watching TV on Kentucky Derby Day: Here’s a trainer who within the last month was caught red-handed fiddling around with a syringe in a detention barn, trying to administer a performance-enhancing substance to his horse. This trainer saddles one of the Derby favorites, a horse owned by a shadowy “hedge-fund” operation run by a (former?) scam artist and white collar crook who once owned another horse which was the focus of a successful FBI investigation into organized crime at the races. How many fans of the sport will want revenge? How many casual viewers will just shake their heads in disbelief and sign the next PETA campaign against racing? How many true fans could really blame them?

Looks like contributor o_crunk was right commenting on the Railbird blog: IWR for Real Change!

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