Trainer Doug O’Neill on his horse racing suspension

Doug O'Neill with Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another

Doug O’Neill with Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another

Trainer Doug O’Neill, who won the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another issued the following statement regarding his horse racing suspension:

Dear owners, friends and horse lovers,

The good news is it’s settled.

It’s settled with the New York Gaming Commission, the California Horse Racing Board, and the Breeders’ Cup.
The short version is I’m suspended starting now through December 18th, which will take me past the Breeders’ Cup.
A couple things I would like to share:

Some folks have been asking me why I didn’t choose to fight the New York, Breeders’ Cup or California decisions — since I knew I didn’t give my horse a drug I never heard of, and that my team never gave our horse a drug they never even heard of.

Good question.

Fighting these board decisions not only costs a lot of money, but far more importantly to me, I’d have to involve all the horse owners and everybody else I work with. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and respect the trusted relationships I am so privileged to have with our team’s horse owners. And the last thing in the world I’m going to do is intentionally drag them in the same mud that I’ve been pulled in to. It’s absolutely not fair to them.

I understand why the boards take the actions they do – and I’ll deal with it on my own. I’ve also been asked if our team is going to be in good hands while I’m away.

We have a culture on our team. A style, a passion and a way that permeates every decision we make from sunrise to sunset. This culture of a team attitude has a way of bringing all of us together day to day in the early mornings – as well as our ‘game-days’ with our horses and their trusted riders. Our philosophy truly means something to everybody on our team. A culture that holds integrity, honor, and doing the right thing for our horses’ right there at the top of the list.

Leandro Mora is going to lead our team. Leandro is an absolutely first-class trainer that has looked horses in the eyes since he learned to walk; and knows and appreciates the heart and will of a horse more than any man I know.

I don’t think we’re in good hands. We’re in great hands.

Part of experience is learning what to do better; how to proactively make changes moving forward. To that, we will institute some new policies in our barn which will heighten security and will include the professional disinfecting of stalls anytime a horse ships in or switches stalls.

So, from my perspective, I’m not going to be away. Everything I’ve tried to build for the last 24 years of my life is going to be in the air of our barns at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Barrett’s Pomona with my team and Leandro at the helm.

You won’t see me at the barns or tracks during these days of suspension, but please give a pat on the back to Leandro, Jack, Choco, Benjamin, Sabas, Fausto, Rosario, Jose, Che, Jonny, Humberto, Fernan, Dennis, Steve, Sal, Gabriel, Julio, Tony, Victor and Sharla.

You can’t possibly imagine how much all of us appreciate all your support and good thoughts.

– Doug