Doug O’Neill says he’s dismayed that Secretariat’s former owner criticized the connections of Triple Crown candidate I’ll Have Another for employing him as the horse’s trainer.
He thinks Penny Chenery would change her mind if she were to see him work.
“It’s disappointing because of how much respect I have for Mrs. Chenery,” O’Neill said May 29 from Belmont Park where he is preparing I’ll Have Another for the June 9 Belmont Stakes. “I would love to have her hang out with me for a week and would stress to her, ‘Don’t believe everything that is written.”‘
O’Neill has been fined four times and currently faces a 45-day suspension because one of his horses was found to have an excess level of total carbon dioxide following a race.
In a recent ruling California Horse Racing Board agreed with O’Neill that his horse in that 2010 race at Del Mar had not been given a “milkshake,” a mixture of bicarbonate of soda, sugar and electrolytes that enhances performance and combats fatigue and is banned in horses in post-race testing. The board did not indicate what might have caused the excess level.
The 90-year-old Chenery, one of the most respected figures in Thoroughbred racing who successfully managed her family’s Meadow Stable as it campaigned Secretariat, questioned why J. Paul Reddam would work with O’Neill in an article published by The Atlantic magazine.
“I think it is regrettable. And it isn’t the horse’s fault and this is probably a very good horse,” Chenery said. “I don’t know Mr. Reddam personally, but I think he should be embarrassed that the trainer he has chosen does not have a clean record.”
O’Neill continues to insist that he abides by the rules. He believes Chenery would approve of his operation if she was more familiar with it.
“I think she’d be happy with the way things happen around the barn,” he said.
Chenery is among connections to past Triple Crown winners scheduled to participate in a National Thoroughbred Racing Associations’ teleconference the afternoon of May 30.
The others are Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte; Sally Hill and Billy Turner, the co-owner and trainer, respectively of Seattle Slew; and Patrice Wolfson and Steve Cauthen, co-owner and jockey, respectively, of Affirmed.