The trainer of star colt I'll Have Another—which will try on June 9 to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978—has been handed a 45-day ban for something that California racing officials ultimately agreed he did not do: give his horse an illegal performance-enhancing mixture, reports the AP. Doug O'Neill spent two years and $250,000 defending himself, insisting he never "milkshaked" his horse Argenta—fed it a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar, and electrolytes to boost performance.
Even though race officials say they believe him, an excessive level of TCO2 was found in Argenta after an August 2010 race, and the rules state the trainer is ultimately responsible for a horse's condition, hence the punishment. Fortunately for O'Neill, the earliest the ban will take effect isn't until July 1, well after the Belmont Stakes. "I know I didn't milkshake a horse. None of us around the barn milkshaked any horses," said O'Neill yesterday. He can appeal the suspension and accompanying $15,000 fine, and says he plans "on examining and reviewing all of my options ... but right now I plan on staying focused on preparing for and winning the Triple Crown."