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Kentucky winner O'Neill faces milkshake case

USA: Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill could be facing up to a six-month suspension amid allegations of ‘milkshaking' in California.

According to US reports, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) has completed a hearing into a case featuring Argenta, a horse trained by O'Neill that tested positive to elevated levels of carbon dioxide in his blood system after a race at Del Mar in August 2010.

The TCO2 test is designed to uncover cases of milkshaking, the illegal practice of giving a horse a blend of bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes believed to reduce fatigue and enhance performance. A verdict on O'Neill's case is expected within two months.

Although better testing procedures have done much to eradicate the procedure, milkshaking used to be regarded as the scourge of US racing, particularly on the west coast.

O'Neill, who saddled bargain buy I'll Have Another to win the Churchill Downs Classic last weekend, is no stranger to such violations, having had three previous indictments: two in California (in May 2006 and January 2008) and one in Illinois.

He served a 15-day suspension in connection with the Illinois case, which concerned Stephen's Got Hope, third in the Illinois Derby in April 2010.

However, O'Neill has consistently denied any charges. "I swear on my kids' eyes I never milkshaked a horse," he told the Blood-Horse.

"We had some people in charge of California racing I think didn't like a few of us that were doing well. Anyway, it's all being heard by the courts and I'm very confident everything will be fine."

I'll Have Another is scheduled to run in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 19.

"It's very frustrating," added O'Neill. "But I've put in about $250,000 in lawyer's fees and will let them worry about all that stuff. It won't affect us at all here. It's all so ridiculous.

"Through the expensive investigative work we're trying to figure out how it all happened. We've gathered a lot of data on how Lasix has an effect on the chemistry of the horse and all that stuff."

 

 
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