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Santa Anita notes: O'Neill returns after 40-day suspension
ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Doug O’Neill returns to work Friday after serving a 40-day suspension for a 2010 medication violation. The end of the suspension coincides with Friday’s opening day of the Santa Anita autumn meeting.
O’Neill may have been gone for more than a month, but his stable was highly active. Led by assistant trainer Leandro Mora, the barn won 10 races in the final weeks at Del Mar and won with 15 of 96 starters overall racing throughout the nation.
O’Neill was suspended for 180 days and fined $15,000 in May for a total carbon dioxide overage at Del Mar in 2010. At the time, the California Horse Racing Board announced that 135 days of the suspension would be stayed, provided that O’Neill did not have any violations of drugs in classes 1, 2, or 3 for an 18-month period, through November 2013.
After discussions with the racing board in early July, O’Neill agreed to drop an appeal of the suspension, citing the desire to avoid high legal fees. His time penalty was reduced by the racing board from 45 days to 40. The suspension ended Thursday.
Earlier this week, O’Neill was more interested in talking about the stable’s future than the suspension. The suspension tarnishes what has been a career-best year for O’Neill. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes for the first time earlier this year with I’ll Have Another, who has since been retired.
“All of this stems from something that happened a few years ago,” he said. “I’ve got to get it behind me and look forward to much better.
“We should have a good start back. I’ve been in the penalty box. The whole crew did a good job.”
O’Neill, 44, has six entrants in five of the nine races on Friday’s program, including Boxeur des Rues and Mensa Heat in the $100,000 Eddie D Stakes.
He has leading candidates in two of the five Grade 1 races at Santa Anita on Saturday. He starts Richard’s Kid in the Awesome Again Stakes over 1 1/8 miles and Know More in the FrontRunner Stakes for 2-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles.
Richard’s Kid was third in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 26.
“He can run on any track,” O’Neill said. “We’re excited to see him compete.”
Know More won his debut in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar in August and was second in the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 5.
The stable’s list of Breeders’ Cup hopefuls also includes Handsome Mike, who won the Pennsylvania Derby for Mora at Parx Racing last weekend and is a candidate for the $1 million BC Dirt Mile on Nov. 3.
Brother Francis preps for Dirt Mile
The 3-year-old colt Brother Francis can move closer to a start in the BC Dirt Mile with a win in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles Friday.
Trainer James Cassidy considered stakes such as Friday’s Eddie D Stakes on the hillside turf course or the Grade 2 Arroyo Seco Mile on Oct. 6, but wants to start Brother Francis on the main track.
“I worked him on the turf, and I think he’s a better horse on the main track,” Cassidy said.
Owned by Norman Cheng, Brother Brancis has 1 win in 7 starts, a maiden race by six lengths at Del Mar on Aug. 5. Third in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity last December, Brother Francis was third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on turf Sept. 2.
Boy o boy am I excited...without Doug racing was so boring and no one cared about it...oops Fairplex's handle was up and Delmar did well. Hmmmmm it seems the racing world was just fine without Doug. Why do all you supporters of doug think it is necessary to have people like O'neill involved in racing??? I just don't get it. He doesn't help the game with always pushing the limits of "therapeutic" meds and he is sooooooo easily replaced by honest trainers. I just don't understand all of the people who are so excited to have him back. He truly offers nothing positive for the sport and the sport goes on and does well without him. It has nothing to do with winning or losing (I've bet on O'neill many times...won some lost some). The guy clearly doesn't care to play by the rules and definitely isn't essential for the existence of the sport, so why should we be celebrating his return. Makes absolutely no sense at all!!
Owned by Norman Cheng, Brother Brancis.......make up your mind is it Francis or Brancis?
The vets ought to work for the track .Maybe some control and make the fines very high.
A "SUPER" Trainer is ONLY as good as his VET, if you don't THINK these Horse's are GETTING a "LITTLE HELP" your living in LA LA land. Between the JOCKS using DRUGS and the Trainer's getting BUSTED every other day, it's a WONDER that PEOPLE even attend. The game is hard ENOUGH,and it's getting harder to BELIEVE in it..The BEST Vet on the GROUNDS is the one that's ONE STEP ahead of LAW..What a SHAME..A true case of GREED.............
funny, all the haters know the facts, even though they have no clue about the allegations, or the person Doug O'Neill is. having known him for quite a while now, and seeing the kind of person he truly is, i can only send out a big prrrroooot to all you churls out there. GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK D.O. always right by your side. cashing big tickets too.
I will take a fry with that shake
welcome back doug: I will follow all your entrys.. because i believe in youre training ability..and during your absent your man done you well and i congradulate him...you and he are a good team...an old fan of yours.
As a skeptic, I have to give him credit. He took the penalty. Did some charitable work I hear. And praises his staff. Time will tell, but he's got my vote.
The Kool-Aid some horse racing fans drink on here is frightening.
Welcome back Doug. You are truly appreciated by your loyal So. Cal. fans I really hope you don't let the comments of the dillusional conspiracy minded get to you. Somehow I get the feeling you don't. You have always been a class act; approachable to the regular guy in the clubhouse. There are many, many folks out there, such as myself, that could not be happier for your success. Keep it up.