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I’ll Have Another trainer responds to criticism from Secretariat’s former owner

FILE - In this May 16 2012 file phoKentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill talks outside his barn Pimlico Race Course

FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O'Neill talks outside his barn at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. O'Neill was suspended 45 days on Thursday, May 24, by the California Horse Racing Board as a result of one of his horses exceeding the allowable limit for total carbon dioxide. But the punishment won't begin before July 1, ensuring he will be able to saddle I'll Have Another in next month's Belmont Stakes. (AP Photo/Garry Jones, File)

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NEW YORK — 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 Tuesday morning. “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 elevated level of carbon dioxide following a race — frequently a sign of an illegal practice known as milkshaking.

The 90-year-old Chenery, one of the most respected figures in Thoroughbred racing, questioned why 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.”

Horses who are milkshaked are given a combination of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes before a race in an effort to combat fatigue.

O’Neill continues to insist that he abides by the rules. He believes Chenery would approve of his large operation if she was more familiar with it.

“I think she’d be happy with the way things happen around the barn,” he said.

I’ll Have Another, bidding to become the 12th Triple Crown champion and the first since Affirmed in 1978, turned in another strong gallop Tuesday morning at Belmont Park. He finished so powerfully that his final three furlongs resembled a workout. David Grening of the Daily Racing Form timed that segment in 38.26 seconds.

O’Neill said he intended to reach out to Billy Turner, who trained 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, for advice on how to handle the remaining days leading to the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes on June 9.



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