O'Neill Hit With Milkshake Charge
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 2/2/2008 2:28:24 PM
Last Updated: 2/2/2008 5:30:08 PM

Doug O'Neill
Photo: Benoit
Leading trainer Doug O'Neill has been named in a California Horse Racing Board complaint alleging that a horse in his care exceeded the allowable level of total carbon dioxide in winning a race at Santa Anita last month.

O'Neill was one of three trainers named in complaints for medication violations by the CHRB in a statement released Feb. 1. The others, David LaCroix and Melody Conlon, were cited for overages of the commonly used bronchodilator clenbuterol.

According to the CHRB, the Ken Maddy Equine Testing Laboratory at the University of California-Davis reported that a blood sample taken from Chicks Rule, winner of the third at Santa Anita Jan. 17, revealed a TCO2 content of more than the allowable 37 millimeters per liter of blood, a class 3 violation. O'Neill faces a fine or suspension as well as purse forfeiture. A hearing date has not been set.

It is the second TCO2 violation for O'Neill, who had a similar finding at Hollywood Park in 2006.  A high level of carbon dioxide in a horse's bloodstream indicates the presence of alkalizing agents, commonly known as milkshaking. O'Neill's starters will be quarantined in a 24-hour detention barn prior to racing for a period of 60 days and his stable will undergo additional surveillance from track security. The CHRB did not say when the detention period would begin.

Through racing of Feb. 1, O'Neill was tied with John Sadler atop the Santa Anita trainer standings with 11 victories. He won all the training titles on the Southern California circuit in 2007.

LaCroix was cited for rule violations after the Maddy Laboratory reported that blood and urine samples taken from a horse in his care, Happyhour Atthebrig, exceeded the regulatory threshold for clenbuterol, a Class 3 violation. LaCroix did not request split sample analysis. Happyhour Atthebrig finished second in the fourth race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 1, 2007. The stewards at Santa Anita have scheduled a hearing on Feb. 17.
 
Conlon's horse, Tommys Luck, also exceeded the regulatory threshold for clenbuterol, according to the CHRB. The University of Florida Laboratory confirmed the excess level of clenbuterol in split samples. Tommys Luck finished first in the sixth race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 21, 2007. The stewards at Santa Anita have scheduled a hearing on Feb. 16.


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