JC / Railbird

Fed Up

The following is a comment I made this morning at 8:09 a.m. on Ray Paulick’s latest, “A ‘honest mistake’ by Mullins,” and which is still “awaiting moderation” as of 10:56 a.m. now approved. I post it here because there a couple points I’d like to make in reply to the piece:

It doesn’t matter if Mullins made a mistake, as he claims. The NY rules are clear, Mullins brazenly violated the whole point of the detention barn, and he should be disciplined. But reaction in some quarters has been disproportionate, [making more of what happened than early reports indicated,] and yes, insinuating. I remember the Van Berg incident; hysteria didn’t follow. The same sort of perspective should prevail now. That it’s not, I take as a pretty good indicator of how broken racing is when it comes to drugs and enforcement — much of the breathless, Mullins-had-a-syringe! response seems rooted in a general dislike of the man himself and a desire (understandable, I also share it) to see the racing industry get tough and get rid of people who think the rules don’t apply to them. People are fed up, and here’s a convenient punching bag.

And that’s it from me on Mullins, until new developments arise.

11:30 Addendum: It just occurred to me, [maybe] Mullins is to integrity as Eight Belles is to safety. It matters not what actually happened, or how it happened — that something happened is enough to galvanize change.


Jessica … We don’t use comment moderation for Paulick Report posts, though to prevent spam have had to insert keywords, phrases and certain ISP addresses as blockers. I’m not sure why your comment went into that folder, since as far as I can see it doesn’t contain any of those parameters.

The point of my article was to show that California officials have tried to make it clear to trainers (since the Van Berg incident in 2007) that substances like Air Power are not permitted on raceday. That fact, along with Mullins’s previous rules violations, may be why there is no small amount of outrage over his alleged actions in New York.

Posted by Ray Paulick on April 8, 2009 @ 11:38 am

Thanks for the follow up, Ray. I got the main point of your post. It was that you framed it with the strawman premise re: apologists that struck me as requiring response.

Posted by Jessica on April 8, 2009 @ 11:47 am

I think both points are valid, the outrage over Mullins is certainly tied to his prior actions but I’d have to agree that the “fed up” factor is at play too.

o_crunk so totally nailed it with “I Want Revenge for real change.

Posted by dana on April 8, 2009 @ 11:53 am

Does anyone think that Mullins has brought this upon himself? Virtually everyone knows about Dbarn rules, so the “I did not know” thing sticks in ones craw. If he took this like so many others have, with a mea culpa instead of the excuse train, I think it would be different.

Posted by PTP on April 8, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

That’s a great point, PTP.

Posted by Jessica on April 8, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

Mullins’ reaction is a no-win, IMHO. The pitchforks were out and being sharpened before his reaction started circulating. There’s not much he could have said that would have made things different. Even if he says *nothing*, the reaction would probably be the same.

I don’t think it’s as simple as “Mullins is to integrity as Eight Belles is to safety”. It’s rather easy compartmentalizing of a story, that for me, has been one long visual thesaurus of many different things masquerading as really the same.

If Eight Belles was about safety, the undertones of the MSM coverage was about integrity. Rhoden isn’t on a panel before the Preakness because he genuienly cares about the safety of horses, it was about the *people* in the game.

When Eight Belles scoped clean it wasn’t a story, but when Jones’ Stones River didn’t come back clean later on in the year, it was a story.

Remember how smooth the segue was from Eight Belles to Big Brown? How the story morphed into Dutrow and how he didn’t know what steroids were doing to his horses?

This is the same story.

It has always been about integrity.

Without integrity we have no game, no worries about safety issues because there are no horses, no PETA distractions, no silly unquantifiable polytrack arguments about safety.

Meanwhile people like Andy Beyer have been one of the few out front of this issue. It makes people uncomfortable when Beyer has the balls to print that in the WAPO. IT SHOULD! These are the same questions over and over that people in the game duck without any serious answers…just a wink and a ‘trust us’ mentality without any ‘show us’.

It follows basic logic that if this lack of integrity is going on at the *very* highest levels of the game then the margins are already lost.

Posted by o_crunk on April 8, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

As one of the initial breathless “syringe”-freaker-outers I wanted to add that putting an incident in perspective works both ways. If it had been a horseman whose violations report has fewer entries than the NYC phone book I would have been much more open to the possibility of an honest mistake. For a 20-year-veteran Top 20 trainer to claim that he didn’t know what a detention barn was for and that he was unaware that different states may have different medication regulations is just an embarrassingly cheap excuse. People who oh-so-much want to believe in an “honest mistake” may be the ones in need of some perspective themselves.

Posted by Malcer on April 8, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on my quick thought, o_crunk. I’m going to come back to a couple points in a later post …

Malcer, any reaction to Lanzman saying he plans to keep I Want Revenge with Mullins?

Posted by Jessica on April 8, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

I don’t think it makes much of a difference. If they changed the trainer, they’d only go to another top name with a history, anyway. Of course, they could go to one of the rather few trusted names who have had some success on the Derby trail (Ian Wilkes, maybe?) but that would mean a complete 180 in IEAH’s approach to the game.

Posted by Malcer on April 9, 2009 @ 4:20 am

What I’d like to know is why I Want Revenge was allowed to run in the Wood. That is the equivalent of catching a hitter with a corked bat in the seventh inning but letting him step to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth before suspending him.

I’ve said this about enforcement in the game over and over again: If you want to clean up racing, hit the owners. When big-shot trainers are suspended, their assistants go right on winning at a 30 percent clip. If you made their horses come off the track, no owner in their right mind would send a string to known cheaters.

Posted by John S. on April 9, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

[…] John S. on an earlier post: I’ve said this about enforcement in the game over and over again: If you want to clean up […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - Hit the Owners on April 9, 2009 @ 11:11 pm

hummm, I wonder how all these folks who want us to “take it easy” on this Mullins would feel if he had been caught with his fist down I Want Revenge’s throat.

Posted by tvnewsbadge on April 12, 2009 @ 12:08 am