10/03/2014 1:26PM

O'Neill barred from entering horses in Breeders' Cup

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Doug O'Neill

Trainer Doug O’Neill, recently suspended by the New York State Gaming Commission for a medication violation and facing potential additional sanctions from the California Horse Racing Board, will be prohibited from pre-entering horses in the Breeders’ Cup, the Breeders’ Cup announced Friday.

In a statement released by the Breeders’ Cup, Craig Fravel, the president and chief executive of the Breeders’ Cup, said the move against O’Neill was “due to the recent administrative action by the New York State Gaming Commission,” with Fravel citing a Breeders’ Cup rule, adopted in 2010 and amended in 2012, that bars trainers who have been found to have Class 1 or Class 2 medication violations in the preceding 12 months.

O’Neill this week was suspended 45 days and fined $10,000 by New York authorities for the finding of the drug Oxazepam, a sedative with muscle-relaxing properties, in the post-race sample of Wind of Bosphorus, who won a $35,000 claiming race at Belmont Park on June 2, 2013.

Oxapezam is a Class 2 drug, according to the American Racing Commissioners International’s website.

“I accept the Breeders’ Cup decision and will not appeal,” O’Neill said in a telephone call. “These are the two biggest days of the sport, and the last thing I want to do is be a distraction. The focus should be on these beautiful horses, and not on me.”

O’Neill won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last year with Goldencents, who was scheduled to have his final prep for this year’s Breeders’ Cup in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Saturday. O’Neill had several other potential Breeders’ Cup runners, including Private Zone, who is bound for the BC Sprint after winning the Vosburgh in New York last week. O’Neill, 46, is best known for winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2012 with I’ll Have Another.

The New York suspension for O’Neill is set to begin Nov. 3 – after the Breeders’ Cup is run at Santa Anita on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 – and last until Dec. 17, just before Santa Anita’s main winter meeting begins Dec. 26.

However, O’Neill said he had reached out Friday to New York authorities to see if his suspension could begin as early as Monday so he would be officially on suspension during the Breeders’ Cup.

“I just want to get this behind me,” he said.

O’Neill could face additional penalties from California authorities owing to a medication violation in 2010 that was adjudicated in 2012.

On Aug. 25, 2010, at Del Mar, one of O’Neill’s horses, Argenta, was found to have raced with a higher-than-permitted level of total carbon dioxide. For that violation, the CHRB on May 29, 2012, suspended O’Neill’s license for 180 days but stayed 135 of those days provided O’Neill did not receive another medication positive at a California track or any U.S. or international racing jurisdiction for a Class 1, 2, or 3 drug during an 18-month probationary period.

The New York violation would seem to fall within that 18-month period.

The CHRB is aware of the sanctions imposed against O’Neill by the New York commission. The issue is under investigation by the CHRB.

– additional reporting by David Grening