Laughing at Doug O’Neill’s Horse Abuse

Derby and Preakness-winning trainer Doug O’Neill, known as “Drug” O’Neill in some circles, has been suspended twice (Illinois 2010, California 2012) for elevated TCO2 levels in his horses, a condition commonly achieved via an illegal (on race day), fatigue-fighting concoction known as a “milkshake.” In an interview with NPR (5/9/12), New York Times reporter Walt Bogdanich says O’Neill has 15 career drug violations. Worse still, according to the Times (5/10/12), the esteemed trainer has an injury/breakdown rate that is more than double the national average.

For his part, O’Neill denies “milkshaking” his Thoroughbreds, but accepts responsibility for the high casualties (The Washington Post, 4/29/13): “We had a period when we had a rash of injuries and I had to look in the mirror. I was running horses too often; I was a little sloppy there.” “A little sloppy”?


So it was against this backdrop that some of California’s brightest decided to “roast” (honor) their animal-abusing friend this past Saturday night. The Paulick Report (8/4/13) notes that “Milkshake” was both the evening’s theme song and featured dessert. This gem from radio host Tim Conway Jr best sums the night’s humor: “Most horses when they’re done go out to pasture or to stud. Dougie’s go to the Betty Ford Clinic.” Sitting on the VIP throne, “Dougie” laughed right along. There are some who argue that comedy should have no bounds, that we should be able to laugh at ourselves and the world around us. But there are lines when the fodder comes from cruelty to others, innocents, in this case. Those horses have no choice but to take what Doug O’Neill does to them, gives to them. Sorry, not funny.

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  1. No, not funny at all.

    From the New York Times, May of 2012…

    “Over 14 years and in four different states, O’Neill received more than a dozen violations for giving his horses improper drugs. O’Neill’s horses also have had a tendency to break down. According to an analysis by The New York Times, the horses he trains break down or show signs of injury at more than twice the rate of the national average.”

    O’Neill’s protests themselves (to the allegations he drugs his horses) raise red flags…he doesn’t even know what a milkshake is?…his brother had to “google it” to find out? Give us a break…we are not the morons here, O’Neill.

    I find nothing about Doug O’Neill funny, and most certainly there is nothing humorous about the destruction and death of his horses.

    Finally, so what was done to her at the hands of O’Neill is never forgotten…RIP Burna Dette.

    • I agree. Unfortunately this “sport” is riddled with O’Neills. The corruption goes both ways, bottom up and top down. Horse racing will remain corrupt until forced to change by a disinterested 3rd party.
      Meanwhile animal abuse goes unchecked which is a disgrace in a civilized society.

  2. WE – all of us – have to show up and make a statement by demanding to treat the horses really humanely (HONESTLY: I would prefer to put horseracing down in the history books as something cruel that happend in former times but now we are more enlightened and do not race animals any more !) … as long as the infield of the KY Derby is bursting with people having fun and we watch it on national TV … nothing will change. So, all of us have to make a statement, write, call, email our elected officials, be loud, demand that *%&$^# (probably a censored expression) like O’Neill never get any kind of job, where they are even remotely responsible for a living creature, again. And, send those *%&$^# like O’Neill to prison, please !

  3. Why does a trainer who receives 15 violations for drug abuse of his horses only get a slap on the wrist?
    It is only greed that allows this kind of injustice to horses happen.

    • Debbie, I have wondered the same thing. There are many drug violations against Mr. Drug O’Neill yet he is still allowed to participate in this so called “sport”….horseracing …and the reason is simple. Those in racing don’t give a damn as long as the money keeps flowing. The horses are a means to an end. It has been that way for years and will continue to be that way until racing dies in the dirt just as many of its athletes do. Please help it along by encouraging family and friends not to bet on the horses.

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