10/07/2014 1:48PM

O'Neill's horses to run in assistant's name

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Doug O'Neill

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Doug O’Neill, who faces a 45-day suspension for a medication violation in New York, will not be the trainer of record of horses from his stable at Santa Anita on Thursday and Friday.

The horses will run under the name of his assistant, Leandro Mora, a decision that O’Neill said Tuesday was made by the owners last weekend.

“They have asked to have Leandro run the horses on Thursday and Friday,” he said.

O’Neill was suspended last week by the New York State Gaming Commission for a medication violation that occurred at Belmont Park in June 2013. The suspension is scheduled to run from Nov. 3 to Dec. 17, but O’Neill said he is seeking to begin the penalty as soon as possible.

Last week, Breeders’ Cup officials said O’Neill would not be allowed to enter horses in Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 because of the organization’s rule barring entries from trainers with medication violations in classes 1 or 2. O’Neill was cited for a class 2 violation at Belmont Park.

In addition, O’Neill could face a 135-day suspension from the California Horse Racing Board for violating the probation terms of a 2012 ruling against him for a medication violation at Del Mar in 2010. In that ruling, issued in May 2012, O’Neill was suspended 180 days, but 135 days were stayed provided O’Neill did not have a violation for medications in classes 1, 2, or 3 in an 18-month period. The Belmont Park violation occurred during that time frame.

On Tuesday, O’Neill said he was not sure whether he would be allowed to begin the New York suspension earlier than Nov. 3.

“My counsel has been working with the CHRB, Breeders’ Cup, and New York,” he said. “I’m hopeful to move this forward. That would be ideal. It could change in the next few minutes or next few days. I just don’t want this to be a distraction.”

On Thursday at Santa Anita, Mora has four runners, all previously listed as trained by O’Neill. Mora is scheduled to have six starters Friday.