Updated on 05/29/2012 11:05AM

O'Neill banned 45 days; penalty to begin July 1 at earliest

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Barbara D. Livingston
Doug O'Neill celebrates the Preakness victory of I'll Have Another

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Doug O'Neill, who trains Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I'll Have Another, has been suspended a minimum of 45 days and fined $15,000 after one of his runners at Del Mar in 2010 tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide. The penalty will not begin until July 1 at the earliest.

I'll Have Another is scheduled to start in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9, in an attempt to sweep the Triple Crown.

The decision was released on Thursday by the California Horse Racing Board after the seven-person board met for more than two hours in a closed session at Betfair Hollywood Park.

O'Neill hinted that he may appeal the decision.

"I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I've got to know all my options and have to go through all of that."

O'Neill said he would take advisement from Paul Reddam, the owner of I'll Have Another.

O'Neill was suspended 180 days after Argenta, who finished eighth in the sixth race at Del Mar on Aug. 25, 2010, tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide, 37 millimoles. But hearing officer Steffan Imhoff recommended that 135 days of the suspension be stayed contingent on O'Neill having no violations for medications listed in classes 1, 2, or 3 for an 18-month period.

[JAY PRIVMAN: Many layers to Derby-winning trainer O'Neill]

The board agreed with that decision, but has not announced a starting date for the 18-month probationary period. It was not clear on Thursday when the 45-day suspension period would begin, but racing board executive director Kirk Breed said in the statement that it will not begin before July 1.

O'Neill's case was heard by Imhoff in a seven-day hearing. During that hearing, Imhoff concluded that Argenta had not been "milkshaked," or given a concoction designed to boost stamina. Furthermore, Imhoff stated that there were no suspicious betting patterns to the race and "no evidence of any intentional acts on the part of O'Neill in connection with this incident," according to the racing board's statement.

Both the racing board and O'Neill had stipulated that tests conducted by the Ken Maddy Laboratory at the University of California at Davis showed an excessive amount of total carbon dioxide levels. Under the trainer insurer rule, in which the trainer is responsible for the well-being of horses in their care, O'Neill was found at fault, which led to the suspension and fine.

O'Neill served a 15-day suspension in 2010 after Stephen Got Hope tested in excess of the permitted level of total carbon dioxide after a seventh-place finish in the Hawthorne Derby at Hawthorne Racecourse.

[I'LL HAVE ANOTHER: Derby, Preakness winner runs for Triple Crown]