I'll Have Another is attempting to become the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown when he runs in the Belmont Stakes next week. Luckily, horses are not easily distracted by off-track legal proceedings. I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, has been suspended by the California racing board because of elevated carbon dioxide detected in another horse, Argenta.
According to the Associated Press, O'Neill will be suspended for 45 days and will be fined $15,000. The suspension will not take effect until after the Belmont Stakes, meaning O'Neill will be able to be present and active when I'll Have Another makes a run at history.
While O'Neill was found to not have personally tampered with Argenta, he was suspended because, as head trainer, he is ultimately responsible for horses under his care.
While elevated carbon dioxide is associated with "milkshaking," the officer agreed with O'Neill that his horse Argenta had not been fed a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes that enhances performance and combats fatigue. The officer did not indicate what might have caused the overage.
"I'm gratified that the CHRB found that I did not "milkshake'' a horse or engage in any intentional conduct that would result in an elevated TC02 level," O'Neill said.
"I know I didn't milkshake a horse. None of us around the barn milkshaked any horses," O'Neill said Wednesday. "You got to have rules and I respect rules, but when you get faulty science involved, it costs a lot of money unfortunately, but you've got to fight it and that's what we're doing."
O'Neill says that he may plan an appeal at a later time, but for now is focusing all of his energy on I'll Have Another and the Belmont Stakes.
You can find the press release of O'Neill's suspension decision here.