Doug O’Neill, the trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another, was suspended 45 days for a California racing violation, a penalty that won’t interfere with his colt’s quest for Triple Crown.
The suspension won’t start until July 1 at the earliest, according to the California Horse Racing Board, which met yesterday in Inglewood, California. The seven-member board also levied a $15,000 fine. An additional 135 days of suspensions were stayed for 18 months, provided O’Neill commits no further Class 1, 2, or 3 violations, regardless of jurisdiction.
I’ll Have Another is at Belmont Park in New York prepping for the June 9 Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown. There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
“I plan on examining and reviewing all of my options following the Belmont Stakes, but right now I plan on staying focused on preparing for and winning the Triple Crown,” O’Neill said in an e-mailed statement.
O’Neill, 44, was sanctioned after excessive levels of total carbon dioxide were found in a sample from Argenta, a filly who finished eighth in the sixth race at Del Mar Racetrack on Aug. 25, 2010. Under California rules, the trainer is accountable for ensuring a horse’s condition.
An elevated level of carbon dioxide sometimes indicates the horse was given a “milkshake,” a performance-enhancing mixture of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes delivered through a tube down a horse’s nose to fight fatigue.
O’Neill denied he gave a milkshake to the horse. A hearing officer agreed with the trainer that there was no evidence he gave the horse the cocktail. The officer also said there were no suspicious betting patterns on the race and no evidence of intentional acts by O’Neill.
O’Neill twice has been found guilty of administering a milkshake at a California racetrack, the New York Times said yesterday. He also was suspended and fined for a similar act in Illinois in 2010, the Times said.
CHRB Executive Director Kirk Breed will determine when the 45-day suspension will begin.