By Dick Downey
Trainer Doug O'Neill is looking at a possible finding of a fourth violation for milkshaking a horse.
O'Neill won last Saturday's Kentucky Derby with I'll Have Another. The possible violation doesn't involve the Derby.
Bloodhorse.com reports that an administrative hearing in California about the issue was recently completed. The California Horse Racing Board is looking into an alleged TCO2 overage in Argenta during a race at Del Mar in August 2010. Officials refused to tell the publication whether the hearing officer has issued a ruling yet.
O'Neill already has three prior documented violations of this type, two in California and one in Illinois, according to the story at Bloodhorse.com.
Milkshaking is an illegal practice. The horse is given a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar, and electrolytes; the mixture is considered performance enhancing. The old-fashioned practice was to administer a milkshake orally using a tube.
There are stories that a paste made in Canada can be used, and that there's even an intravenous method, but lore has it that most horsemen who enage in the practice do it the old-fashioned way.
O'Neill has denied engaging all the allegations against him, saying yesterday, "I swear on my kids' eyes I never milkshaked a horse."
Regardless of the outcome of the case pending in California, O'Neill's eligibility to train through this year's Triple Crown won't be endangered. The process will take much longer than that to finalize -- if the hearing officer finds that a positive occurred, in which case O'Neill could face a fine and/or a suspension.
The earliest the full board could meet to discuss the matter is May 24, and if the decision goes against O'Neill, he would more than likely petition for a stay and a reversal from a court.