Horse Racing: Trainer Doug O’Neill Fires Back at New York Times Article
Trainer Doug O’Neill called the New York Times’ report that dual classic winner I’ll Have Another was ailing before his retirement “irresponsible journalism.”
The Times reported on Wednesday that I’ll Have Another’s veterinary records showed he was being treated with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs between winning the Preakness Stakes on May 19 and being scratched from the Belmont with an injury to his left front tendon and ultimately retired on June 8, the eve of the Belmont Stakes.
The Times reported that the records also showed that X-rays of the three-year-old colt’s front ankles taken four days after the Preakness showed signs of osteoarthritis.
“The painkillers are equivalent to Advil that you or I would take,” O’Neill said. “They’re far from painkillers. A painkiller, are you kidding me? It’s irresponsible and fictitious.”
O’Neill also added that the X-rays taken on the colt were a routine procedure and that the colt did not have osteoarthritis. He said that the four vets who reviewed the reports for the New York Times had not been involved in I’ll Have Another’s care “at all”.
“X-raying is something that is just part of my caretaking for the horses. It’s perfectly normal to X-ray horses,” O’Neill said. “To have four vets who have never seen the horse come and speculate off vet reports, it’s irresponsible. I’ll Have Another was sound, doing great all the way up until the tendon issue came up.
“That horse went through every physical exam and blood exam known to man,” O’Neill added. “He retired sound. He had the start of the tendon and we stopped on him. It’s a time where I really think we should be celebrating I’ll Have Another and all his accomplishments and applauding the owners (J. Paul Reddam) for doing the right thing and not running him (in the Belmont.)
“I love my horses,” O’Neill said. “People actually pay me to care for them, and I take that very seriously.”