It is no secret that drugs are a problem in horse racing, and as the sport gears up fo a potentially historic Belmont Stakes, a question about drugs is threatening to hang over the moment like a dark cloud. I'll Have Another trainer Doug O'Neill is currently in the midst of what is surely the high point of his professional career, but this weekend he was forced to answer questions about potential penalties stemming from allegations that he has drugged horses in the past.
O'Neill has been accused in California of "milkshaking," the term for an illegal mixture of drugs that contains bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes. The blend supposedly reduces fatigue in horses and increases performance. Argenta, a horse trained by O'Neill, tested positive for the blend on Aug. 25, 2010, and it's possible that O'Neill could be fined or suspended, although any penalty will assuredly come after the Belmont.
O'Neill, who has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that California's drug testing program is flawed, denies the accusations:
"I swear on my kids' eyes I never milkshaked a horse," O'Neill said nine days before the Preakness. "We had some people in charge of California racing I think didn't like a few of us that were doing well. Anyway, it's all being heard by the courts and I'm very confident everything will be fine."