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Trainer Doug O'Neill suspended 45 days by New York officials after horse's positive drug test

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NEW YORK — Southern California-based trainer Doug O'Neill has been suspended 45 days and fined $10,000 by the New York State Gaming Commission after one of his horses tested positive for a banned substance after a race at Belmont Park in June 2013.

Under a settlement with the gaming commission, O'Neill's suspension begins Nov. 3 — two days after the Breeders' Cup is run at Santa Anita — and ends Dec. 18. The deal also calls for O'Neill to serve an additional 45 days if he incurs another violation involving a Class 1, 2 or 3 medication between now and Dec. 18, 2015, at any racetrack.

The Daily Racing Form first reported the settlement.

O'Neill said in a statement issued Wednesday night through his publicist that he wasn't in New York when the alleged infraction took place and he's confident that none of his employees or staff administered the substance. O'Neill says that as the trainer of record, he's taking responsibility for the positive test and he cares deeply for the horses under his supervision.

The drug Oxazepam, considered a Class 2 sedative with muscle-relaxing properties, was found in the post-race sample of Wind of Bosphorus, who won a $35,000 claiming race at Belmont on June 2, 2013.

The gaming commission said the drug was administered within a week of the horse's race, which violates the state's racing rules.

Owner Yildirim Gelgin had to give up the first-place purse of $24,600, and Wind of Bosphorus was ordered unplaced in the order of finish. Wind of Bosphorus was claimed later that day.

O'Neill trained 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another, who was scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes with an injury and subsequently retired. He is ranked 15th nationally among trainers with purse earnings of $4,255,181 this year, according to Equibase.

During the 2012 Triple Crown, the California Horse Racing Board suspended O'Neill for 180 days but stayed 135 of those provided he didn't receive another medication positive at any racetrack in California, the rest of the U.S. or overseas involving a Class 1, 2 or 3 drug during an 18-month probationary period.

The punishment was the result of a positive test by one of O'Neill's horses, Argenta, for a higher than allowed level of total carbon dioxide on Aug. 25, 2010, at Del Mar.

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