New York state racing authorities are taking every precaution when it comes to drug testing and safeguarding the horses racing in the 2012 Belmont Stakes. According to a recent report by the New York Times, all of the horses must be housed in single, highly secure barn beginning three days before the June 9 race. Each horse will also be subjected to a blood test on June 6, and searches and checks will be conducted on all equipment, feed, hay and bales.
Special attention will be paid to one horse in particular: I'll Have Another and his trainer, Doug O'Neill.
The steps taken by the authorities also include a set of specific safeguards directed at I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, who has racked up multiple violations in a handful of states and was suspended for 45 days last week by California regulators for yet another violation. O'Neill will not have to serve the suspension until after the Belmont.
Among the requirements for O'Neill, according to a confidential e-mail obtained by The New York Times, are that his horses cannot in any way be treated "without a board investigator present," and that he should not allow treatment of any of his horses "by mouth or in feed without conferring with a board investigator, who will first log the treatment and discuss the reason(s) for treatment."
O'Neill apparently isn't fighting authorities on the procedures. When asked Wednesday afternoon, he said he would comply: "I understand they are trying to protect the horse, the betting public and the integrity of the sport." O'Neill even requested to move into the barn ahead of the required deadline to help the horse get acclimated to his surroundings before attempting to win horse racing's Triple Crown for the first time since 1978.