Updated on 10/03/2014 11:04PM

O'Neill suspended by New York gaming commission

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Doug O'Neill

Trainer Doug O’Neill will serve a 45-day suspension and was fined $10,000 by the New York State Gaming Commission for the finding of a forbidden substance in one of his horses following a race at Belmont Park in June 2013.

Under a settlement reached with the gaming commission, O’Neill’s suspension does not begin until Nov. 3, two days after the Breeders’ Cup is run at Santa Anita. The suspension runs through Dec. 17.

Also, as part of the settlement, O’Neill would have to serve an additional 45 days if he incurs another violation involving a Class 1, 2, or 3 medication between now and Dec. 18, 2015, at any track.

O’Neill’s suspension comes as a result of 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 on June 2, 2013. Oxapezam is a Class 2 drug, according to the American Racing Commissioners International’s website.

According to the New York State Gaming Commission, the drug was administered within a week of the horse’s race, a violation of New York racing regulation 4043.2 (h).

Owner Yildirim Gelgin had to relinquish the first-place purse of $24,600, and Wind of Bosphorus was ordered unplaced in the order of finish. Wind of Bosphorus was claimed that day by Steve Asmussen for owner Clark Brewster.

Asked why the penalty was so severe, a spokesperson for the gaming commission, in an e-mail, noted that O’Neill has had 18 prior equine drug violations – nine since January 2009.

On Aug. 25, 2010, at Del Mar, one of O’Neill’s horses, Argenta, raced with a higher-than-permitted level of total carbon dioxide.

For that violation, the California Horse Racing Board 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. This New York violation would seem to fall within that 18-month period.

O’Neill is best known as the trainer of I’ll Have Another, who in 2012 won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. I’ll Have Another was injured and scratched the day before the Belmont and subsequently retired.

O’Neill, in an e-mail sent by his publicist, Kelly Wietsma, late Wednesday night, said, “Although I was not present or even in the state of New York when the alleged infraction took place, and I am confident that none of my employees or staff administered the alleged substance, I was the trainer of record and am taking responsibility for the positive test. I care deeply for the horses under my supervision and am responsible for ensuring their well being.”

The California Horse Racing Board is aware of the recent settlement agreement between Doug O’Neill and the New York State Gaming Commission.

The issue is currently under investigation by the CHRB.