Bloomberg News

Belmont Stakes Horses Face Stringent Rules to Prevent Tampering

May 31, 2012

Triple Crown chance I’ll Have Another and other Belmont Stakes entrants will be monitored closely to prevent tampering in the run-up to the June 9 race.

All horses will undergo blood tests when they arrive at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, and will be stalled in a secure area from June 6. New York racing board investigators will monitor all treatments.

“The Racing and Wagering Board will ensure that the race is run in a safe and fair manner,” board Chairman John Sabini said in an e-mail. “The protocols put forth here will protect horses, riders and the betting public.”

Doug O’Neill, the trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, can’t treat his horses without a board investigator present, the New York Times reported. Nor can they be treated “by mouth or in feed without conferring with a board investigator, who will first log the treatment and discuss the reason for treatment,” the newspaper said.

“I’ll comply,” O’Neill told the Times. “I understand they are trying to protect the horse, the betting public and the integrity of the sport.”

O’Neill faces a 45-day suspension in California for failing to ensure the health of one of his racehorses. O’Neill, 44, was sanctioned after excessive levels of total carbon dioxide were found in a sample from Argenta after an Aug. 25, 2010, race at Del Mar Racetrack.

An elevated level of carbon dioxide sometimes indicates the horse was given a “milkshake,” a performance-enhancing mixture of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes delivered through a tube down a horse’s nose to fight fatigue. O’Neill twice has been found guilty of administering a milkshake at a California racetrack, the Times said. He also was suspended and fined for a similar act in Illinois in 2010, the newspaper reported.

O’Neill denied giving Argenta a milkshake and a hearing officer agreed there was no evidence he gave the horse the cocktail.

I’ll Have Another is seeking to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at nkercheval@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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