The New York Times reports Doug O'Neill, the trainer of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another, was sanctioned last summer and could face a six-month suspension after one of his horses tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in California.
O'Neill became an overnight sensation when his racehorse stormed down the homestretch to win last week's Derby. He's a self-taught trainer with a blue collar persona and was spoken highly of during NBC's broadcast. This recent news, first reported by the Times, not only threatens that reputation, but could diminish the impact of the upcoming Preakness Stakes.
The Times reports:
A year before, in 2010, O'Neill was punished for administering an illegal performance-enhancing concoction to a horse he ran in the prestigious Illinois Derby — the third time he had been accused of giving a horse what is known as a milkshake. Four months later, he was accused again of giving a milkshake to a horse in California.
Over 14 years and in four different states, O'Neill received more than a dozen violations for giving his horses improper drugs. O'Neill's horses also have had a tendency to break down. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the horses he trains break down or show signs of injury at more than twice the rate of the national average.
O'Neill served a 15-day suspension for the Illinois offense. He's appealing the California ruling in July, one month after I'll Have Another could possibly be running for the Triple Crown at Belmont. If O'Neill loses the appeal, he could face a six-month suspension.
The milkshake O'Neill is alleged to have given contains baking soda, sugar and electrolytes. It is forced down a horse's nose to battle fatigue.
O'Neill admitted he's overworked horses in the past but says he's taken steps to hold them back if they're not ready. "My horses are well taken care of, and I love them," he told the Times. "And I love this sport."
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