The action will not take effect until on or after July 1 and thus will not impact trainer Doug O'Neill's effort to send out the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, when I'll Have Another contests the June 9 Belmont Stakes.
The California Racing Board held O'Neill responsible for higher-than-allowed levels of total carbon dioxide found in the system of Argenta, a horse he saddled last August at Del Mar.
The CRB accepted the findings of a hearing officer that O'Neill had not administered an illegal concoction of alkaline substances known in racing circles as a "milkshake." Nonetheless, the commission noted that under California regulations, the trainer is responsible for any infractions involving his or her horse, regardless of how the infractions occurred.
Accordingly, the commission stayed all but 45 days of a 180-day suspension, conditional on O'Neill maintaining a clean record during the next 18 months. He also was fined $15,000.
The board's executive director will determine the timing of the suspension.
"I'm gratified that the CHRB found that I did not 'milkshake' a horse or engage in any intentional conduct that would result in an elevated TC02 level," O'Neill said in a prepared statement. "I plan on examining and reviewing all of my options following the Belmont Stakes, but right now I plan on staying focused on preparing for and winning the Triple Crown."
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