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Del Mar Horse Racing Trainer Doug O'Neill Claims California Uses Bad Science to Test for Cheating

No one likes a cheater, especially in horse racing, a sport historically riddled with blood doping and betting fraud.

To combat the arsenal of tricks used by wily horse trainers and owners, the California Horse Racing Board has adopted regulations to test for what is called "milkshaking," whereby a horse is given substances that raise the animal's total carbon dioxide (TCO2) blood levels and reduce fatigue.

A prominent trainer at Del Mar, however, who has been sanctioned several times for failed milkshake tests, is calling bullshit and is suing the California racing board claiming he was punished unfairly and that the entire state's milkshake-testing program is based on junk science.

According to LA-based trainer Doug O'Neill, his horse Argenta, which finished eighth in the sixth race at Del Mar on August 25, 2010, tested above the allowable threshold for TCO2.

The Racing Board subsequently filed a complaint against O'Neill, and the trainer faced possible suspension or revocation of his license.

O'Neill apparently has a history of TCO2 violations. This was reportedly the fourth time since 2006 that one of his horses failed a milkshake test, and he has served a suspension in Illinois for violating the rule.

But O'Neill, according to his federal court lawsuit, first reported by Courthouse News Service, claims that the maximum threshold for TCO2 used by the California racing board is bogus

He says that there is "considerable scientific information" that "establishes that the average TCO2 level of normal horses is considerably higher than the level on the basis of which the [racing board] established its testing program," and that the test is "not rationally based given the best and most current scientific information."

O'Neill, is asking the court the stop the California racing board from enforcing its testing program and to keep the racing board from imposing sanctions against him based on the alleged violation involving Argenta.


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