Prior to saddling his horse for a Kentucky Derby prep race yesterday, trainer Doug O'Neill learned that he must serve a drug suspension starting next week. The trainer was given a 10-day suspension and a $7,500 fine, as well as probation for a positive drug test from October 9th. The horse finished second in a $38,000 claiming race at Santa Anita and tested positive for Lidocaine.
Per the terms of the suspension, O'Neill is not allowed at the stables or any California track until March 17th and is on probation for one year. The 10 days were determined after a settlement with the California Horse Racing Board, reducing the suspension from 30 days. O'Neill must not have any drug infractions during the probation period. Leandro Mora is expected to take over in his absence.
Doug O'Neill posted a response via Facebook this morning in response to his "trainer responsibility suspension." The post states:
"I take 100% responsibility for the minuscule (parts per trillion) amount of Lidocaine detected in one of my horse's post-race. As the trainer for the horse, the buck stops with me. Lidocaine is prevalent in numerous over-the-counter medications used to relieve and itching caused by minor sunburns or other burns, insect bites, and the like. Lidocaine is an ingredient in many human creams. I know with certainty that I have never administered Lidocaine to any of my horses, ever, and that this has to be environmental contamination. The amount involved would not affect a horse's performance.
I must serve a 10-day suspension for this infraction.
I am grateful to the CHRB for working with me to settle this matter and I will take the suspension and look forward to moving on from this unfortunate incident.
As a trainer, it's easy to accept the ‘pats on the backs' and accolades, but we have to also accept the ‘less than' moments, equally well."