Doug O'Neill

Doug O'Neill

Anne M. Eberhardt

O'Neill Slapped With 45-Day Ban in California

Racing board action means embattled trainer will not be able to return until Dec. 19.

Embattled trainer Doug O'Neill has been handed an additional 45-day suspension in California for violating terms of an earlier agreement with the state's racing board.

The suspension is effective immediately and runs through Nov. 22. Coupled with his 45-day ban levied earlier in New York for a class 2 drug violation, the latest action means O'Neill will be unable to train again until Dec. 19, the California Horse Racing Board said in an Oct. 9 release.

California-based O'Neill is best known for winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) with I'll Have Another  and the success of multiple grade I winner Lava Man.

The CHRB and O'Neill entered into a stipulated agreement, under which the controversial trainer is suspended for 135 days90 days of which are stayedand placed on probation for 18 months for violation of a board decision May 24, 2012. The action followed a week-long investigation by the CHRB into whether O'Neill had violated terms of his earlier agreement following the imposition of the suspension in New York.

The 2012 decision, which concerned a class 3 total carbon dioxide violation, stated in part that O'Neill's license was placed on probation for 18 months and his license was suspended for a period of 180 days with 135 days stayed. O'Neill served 45 days of the suspension at that time.

The decision further stated, "The stay shall become permanent upon successful completion of probation without a further Class 1, 2, or 3 violation in California or an equivalent violation in any United States or international racing jurisdiction."

On March 10, 2014, four months after O'Neill's probation in California ended, the New York State Gaming Commission issued an Order to Show Cause. It alleged that O'Neill should be fined and suspended after a horse in his stable, Wind of Bosphorus, had competed in the second race at Belmont Park nine months earlier, on June 2, 2013, with a benzodiazepine drug, containing and/or capable of metabolizing into oxazepam, a sedative.

The CHRB and Association of Racing Commissioners International both classify oxazepam as a Class 2 drug with a Category A penalty.

The New York complaint was filed and the adjudication finalized after O'Neill had completed his 18-month probation in California Oct. 29. The CHRB said in its statement that it considered this a mitigating factor in reaching its decision.

The new agreement requires O'Neill to begin another 18-month probationary period following his suspension, commencing Nov. 23. During the period of probation, the stay is conditioned upon O'Neill not being found in violation of any further Class I, II, or III drug regulation or rule in California or equivalent violation in any United States or international racing jurisdiction.

The latest agreement specifically states that the date of any such violation will be the deciding event, not the date of a complaint or final adjudication.

a CHRB rule pertaining to the forfeiture of assigned stall space and removal of equipment was not invoked as the suspension of license by the CHRB is 45 days.

During his banishment, O'Neill is denied access to all premises within the CHRB's jurisdiction.

In the New York settlement, O'Neill was fined $10,000 in addition to his suspension.

O'Neill also was barred by the Breeders' Cup from entering any horses in this year's World Championships. One of his horses, Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) winner Private Zone, will retain trainer Alfredo Velazquez, who was the listed trainer in New York, as the conditioner of record. Private Zone is a top contender in this year's Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).

Since Saturday, horses from O'Neill's stable have been entered in the name of his longtime assistant, Leandro Mora.