08/17/2012 3:15PM

Del Mar: O'Neill, leading trainer standings, begins 40-day suspension Sunday


DEL MAR, Calif. – Doug O’Neill, who tops the Del Mar trainer standings, begins a 40-day suspension on Sunday for a total carbon dioxide overage found in one of his runners at Del Mar in 2010.

Through Thursday, O’Neill had 15 wins, one more than Peter Miller. More than two weeks are left in a Del Mar meeting, which ends on Sept. 5. During his suspension, O’Neill will turn the business over to his assistant, Leandro Mora.

On Friday, O’Neill was busily overseeing the operation for a final day. He planned to travel to Arlington Park on Saturday for the Arlington Million program. When he returns to California, he will be unable to attend the races or be in the stables through Sept. 27.

“The 40 days will go by quickly,” he said.

Last month, O’Neill dropped an appeal of the total carbon dioxide overage, reaching a stipulated agreement with the California Horse Racing Board for him to begin the suspension on Sunday.

The suspension covers the end of the Del Mar meeting and the entire meeting at the Los Angeles County Fair at Fairplex Park. O’Neill was the leading trainer at Fairplex Park in 2011.

O’Neill was originally suspended 180 days, with 135 days stayed contingent upon the trainer having no violations in medication classes 1,2, or 3 through Nov. 27, 2013. When O’Neill said that he would drop his appeal, the time period of the suspension was reduced slightly. He paid a $15,000 fine.

O’Neill won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes earlier this year with I’ll Have Another, who was scratched and retired the day before the Belmont Stakes with a tendon injury. Now, O’Neill is leaving at a time when his stable has won races with promising 2-year-olds.

Know More won his career debut in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 5 and will start for Mora in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 5. The first-time starter He’s Had Enough won his debut on Aug. 12 and is a candidate for the $150,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park on Sept. 8. Both are owned by Paul Reddam, who raced I’ll Have Another.

As for the rest of the barn, O’Neill doubts that the stable will be as active in coming weeks as it was in the first half of Del Mar.

“We were pretty loaded at the start of the meeting,” he said. “They might not all come back and run a second or third time. If Leandro thinks they are ready to run, they’ll run.”

O’Neill said he will spend his time off with his wife and children. They have a trip to Indiana planned to attend the Michigan-Notre Dame football game on Sept. 22. He said he would like to attend a week-long farrier school in Kentucky, as well as volunteer at one of California’s equine retirement homes.

O’Neill predicted that Miller will win the training title, although Miller said on Friday that his 50-horse stable may not be large enough to hold off challenges from contenders such as Bob Baffert and John Sadler.

Through Friday, Baffert had 11 wins, two more than Sadler.

“I still think I’m an underdog,” Miller said. “I don’t have the numbers that Sadler and Baffert do. I’ve got a shot. We haven’t fired all of our bullets.”

◗ Suggestive Boy, the winner of the Wickerr Stakes on turf in July, worked a mile in 1:37.60 on Friday in preparation for the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Aug. 26. Suggestive Boy was ridden by jockey Joe Talamo and galloped out 1 1/8 miles in 1:51, trainer Ron McAnally said.

Suggestive Boy is part of an expected field of 10 in the Pacific Classic, led by Hollywood Gold Cup winner Game On Dude. Other probable starters are Richard’s Kid, who won the 2009 and 2010 Pacific Classic, as well as Amani, Dullahan, Jaycito, John Scott, Kettle Corn, Rail Trip, and Where’s Sterling.